Martin Tyler: what did Sky Sports commentator say about Hillsborough disaster during BBC Radio 4 interview?

In a statement the Sky Sports commentator apologised ‘wholeheartedly for any misunderstanding’

Martin Tyler has apologised for comments he made about the Hillsborough disaster during an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.

The veteran Sky Sports presenter has caused outrage after referring to “Hillsborough and other hooligan-related issues.”

He has issued an apology along with the BBC, for not “robustly” challenging his comments.

Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has called the comments “exceptionally crass” adding that he “hope there’ll be an apology sharpish.”

Here’s everything you need to know about what Martin Tyler said.

Sky television commentator Martin Tyler in the commentary box (Pic: Getty Images)

What did Martin Tyler say about the Hillsborough disaster?

In an interview on the Today Programme for BBC Radio 4, Tyler referred to “Hillsborough and other hooligan related issues.”

The veteran broadcaster was there to speak about the last 30 years of the premier league.

Tyler said the game was “in a bit of a crisis at that time”.

He added: “We weren’t that long after Hillsborough and other hooligan-related issues as well, so it was a very much a difficult time for the game generally.”

His comments connecting the disaster with hooliganism has caused outrage and condemnation.

What was the Hillsborough disaster?

The Hillsborough disaster is the worst sporting disaster to have occured in the UK.

On an afternoon in 1989 a crush developed at the Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield where Liverpool fans were going to watch the club play in the FA semi-cup final against Nottingham Forest.

The disaster claimed the lives of 96 people, fans themselves were initially blamed for the tragedy, with newspapers at the time citing “drunk and ticketless” people to have caused the disaster.

Survivors’ families had to fight for 30 years to get justice for their loved ones.

The Hillsborough Inquiry was launched in 2014 and concluded in 2016.

It found that the 96 people who died were unlawfully killed, with jurors ruling fans had played no part.

Police failures, stadium design faults, and a delayed response by the ambulance service were blamed for the tragedy.

Since this ruling, families have tried to hold those responsible to account.

However, the only successful conviction has been against Graham Mackrell, a former secretary of Sheffield, who was found guilty of a safety offence and fined £6,500.

Flowers, shirts and photographs surround the eternal flame of the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield in Liverpool (Pic: AFP via Getty Images)

What did Martin Tyler’s apology say?

Tyler announced his apology through Sky after the interview had aired.

He said: “This morning, while discussing various crises facing football 30 years ago, I referred to some examples including the Hillsborough disaster and also controversy over hooliganism at matches.

“These are two separate issues. There is no connection at all between the Hillsborough disaster and hooliganism – I know that, and I was not implying that there was. I apologise sincerely and wholeheartedly for any misunderstanding.”

The BBC also issued an apology, drawing on the criticism that it did not challenge Tyler’s comments during the interview.

The BBC said: “We regret that we did not robustly challenge Martin Tyler on a comment which appeared to link Hillsborough and hooliganism. Martin has since apologised for the comment & clarified that these were separate examples and he did not intend to conflate the two.”

What has the reaction been?

There has been a strong reaction from the city of Liverpool, with both politicians and people who were there during the disaster condemming the comments.

Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram described Tyler’s comments as “exceptionally crass” on Twitter.

He added: “Even now, people whose careers are built on football still spread these foul smears. I hope there’ll be an apology sharpish.”

Paula Barker, the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, called the comments “disgusting” and criticised the BBC for not challenging Tyler’s statement.

She called out the incident on Twitter, saying: “How can he be allowed to have a career in sports journalism & perpetuate these lies”?