The BBC has severed ties with radio pundit Craig Ramage following “entirely unacceptable” comments made by the former Derby midfielder about the club’s black players.
Ramage appeared to single out the Sky Bet Championship side’s “young black lads” for criticism following Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Huddersfield – remarks which were strongly condemned by the Rams on Sunday.
Speaking on BBC Radio Derby’s Sportscene Podcast, Ramage said: “When I look over and I look at certain players, their body language, their stance, the way they act, you just feel, ‘whoa, hold on a minute – he needs pulling down a peg or two’. So I’d probably say that about all the young black lads.”
The 49-year-old issued a “heartfelt apology” for his “wholly inappropriate” words on Sunday evening, but the BBC nonetheless acted swiftly in announcing it would no longer be working with Ramage.
I wish to apologise unreservedly for a comment that I made after yesterday’s game. What I said was wholly inappropriate and unintentional. Race is irrelevant to the issues that I was discussing and I deeply regret what I said. I sincerely hope that the players accept my apology.— Craig Ramage (@CraigRamage70) February 16, 2020
A BBC spokesperson said: “These were entirely unacceptable comments and we will no longer be working with Craig.”
Ramage posted on Twitter: “I wish to apologise unreservedly for a comment that I made after yesterday’s game. What I said was wholly inappropriate and unintentional. Race is irrelevant to the issues that I was discussing and I deeply regret what I said. I sincerely hope that the players accept my apology.
“I would like to reiterate my heartfelt apology not only to the players but also the fans that have listened to me over the past seven years and also to those that followed me throughout my career. I would like to reinforce that this error in no way reflects my personal views.”
Derby left-back Max Lowe spoke out against the comments on social media while the club say they “stand shoulder to shoulder, together as one with all our players”.
Derby County Football Club has issued the following statement.— Derby County (@dcfcofficial) February 16, 2020
“Derby County Football Club is aware of comments made by a BBC employee after yesterday’s game against Huddersfield Town, directed specifically at a section of our young players,” the club said a statement on Sunday evening.
“We have been in contact with the BBC throughout the day and underline that we do not in any way condone any form of discrimination.
“We take comments like these extremely seriously, we do not tolerate them, and stand shoulder to shoulder, together as one with all our players.”
Lowe, who was an unused substitute against Huddersfield, wrote on Instagram: “As a young black footballer making my way in the game, I was shocked by comments made by one of the analysts on BBC Radio Derby’s Sportscene programme.
“With the support from people I have around me – and after reading today that Raheem Sterling is to spearhead an anti-racism and anti-discrimination taskforce on behalf of players from all backgrounds – I have decided to speak out on behalf of black footballers at Derby County.
“Racial ignorance, stereotyping and intolerance negatively affects the image of impressionable young footballers and creates an unnecessary divide in society.
“I am also disappointed that a public service broadcaster did not step in to ask the analyst to explain his reasoning, or to distance themselves from these archaic thoughts.
“This was broadcast at the same time BBC Derby is promoting a 27-minute feature with former Rams defender Charlie Palmer about the difficulties he faced a as a young black footballer in the 1980s.
“As a professional footballer at an ambitious, high-profile Championship club I know that my performances will be scrutinised and I have no problem with that whatsoever – but I do not think it is acceptable for myself and my team-mate Jayden Bogle to be judged by the colour of our skin.
“Thank you for taking your time reading this – in a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari told the Guardian: “These comments are shocking and the views expressed are the kind of thoughtless racist stereotypes that we heard 50 years ago. We do not expect to hear them lazily trotted out in 2020. I expect effective action to be taken by the BBC.
“I support Max Lowe’s comments and we offer our support to Max, Jayden Bogle and the young Derby players.”
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