‘Nitty gritty’ on Sky Sports’ banned list of words due to supposed links to slavery


‘Nitty gritty’ on Sky Sports’ banned list of words due to supposed links to slavery as broadcaster orders commentators to avoid using language which may offend viewers in emails containing list of prohibited phrases

  • Sky Sports will warn reporters not to use words which may offend viewers
  • Staff members will be sent message containing list of prohibited phrases
  • Broadcaster will hold sessions with commentators to discuss language used 
  • Study has found ‘deep-rooted racial stereotypes’ are prominent in commentary

Sky Sports are drawing up a list of phrases they feel may offend – and are warning commentators not to use them.

Sportsmail understands that commentators and match reporters have been sent a number of emails with phrases which are deemed out of bounds, including one which told them not to say ‘nitty-gritty’ amid concerns over links to slavery.

The messages are part of an ongoing drive by the broadcaster to ensure that staff are aware of the origins of the language that they use while on air.

Sky Sports will semd a list of prohibited phrases to commentators and reporters this week

WHAT ARE THE ORIGINS OF THE TERM ‘NITTY-GRITTY’? 

Today ‘nitty-gritty’ is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as meaning: ‘The fundamentals, realities or basic facts of a situation or subject. The heart of the matter.’

The OED says that the word can be traced back to at least 1940 and originated in the United States in African-American usage. 

But the origin of the phrase is uncertain and disputed – and many consider its roots to be in the slave trade, so its use is banned in some institutions such as the police force.

This theory suggests that the expression refers to the debris, such as lice and grit, left in the bottom of slave ships once the slaves have been removed from the hold after a long voyage.

But there is no evidence linking the term to slavery in the first printed examples found of its use.

Phrases.org, which researches the origins of such terms, lists the earliest example of ‘nitty-gritty’ in print being from a catalogue of musical compositions from 1937, which includes a song titled ‘That Nitty-Gritty Dance’, by Arthur Harrington Gibbs. 

There are no printed examples of the phrase after that until the 1950s, when its use was varied.

Some examples show ‘nitty’gritty’ used in its modern sense, but others are more obscure.

In one example, according to phrases.org, a ‘nitty-gritty gator’, as used in an article in Texas newspaper The Daily Journal in June 1956, meant a ‘lowlife hip dude’.

It has also been suggested that ‘nitty-gritty’ refers to head lice – ‘nits’ – or ground corn – ‘grits’ – but again there is no hard evidence.

Phrases.org concludes that ‘it is most likely that the rhyme was formed as a simple extension of the existing US adjective “gritty”, meaning determined or plucky.’ 

Sky Sports holds sessions with presenters, reporters and commentators in which the importance of the language they use to describe athletes from different backgrounds is discussed.

In the light of the recent issues raised by the killing of George Floyd in the United States and the increased focus on racism it generated, they have put on extra sessions with the Professional Footballers’ Association and Kick it Out.

The broadcaster has concentrated on language used, especially when discussing stories and issues concerning the Black Lives Matter movement.

However, the emails have not gone down well with some members of staff. One claimed that they now faced ‘a complete minefield’ while on air, adding: ‘There are phrases that most people would have absolutely no idea would cause offence and that, to be frank, I’d be amazed if people were offended by. It’s making what is already a difficult job harder and it feels unnecessary.

‘There are obvious things that should not be said and I think everyone believes that education on these issues needs to be improved, but this feels like we are tripping over ourselves.’ 

Earlier this week, the PFA urged commentators to address their racial bias after a study revealed differences in how they describe players with different skin tones. 

Findings revealed on Tuesday, following the first study of its kind in football, showed that ‘deep-rooted racial stereotypes’ are promoted in commentary.

Players with lighter skin tone received significantly more praise for their intelligence, quality, work rate and versatility, while players with darker skin tones received at least 63 per cent of the criticism when it came to comments made about intelligence, quality and versatility.

The term ‘nitty-gritty’ is widely used and there is much debate over its origin. Some believe it originated as a term used by slave traders to refer to the detritus left after a slave ship was emptied, although this is disputed.

Last month, Dundee city council said it would review ‘slave traders’ language in council chambers, such as the phrase ‘nitty-gritty’.

 

The Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged broadcaster to dissect problematic phrases

The Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged broadcaster to dissect problematic phrases

SKY SPORTS’ NEW POLICY ON TACKLING RACISM  

Sky Sports today announced that they are ‘committed to doing more to tackle racism, highlight racial injustice and support communities impacted by racism’.

It appeared to back its pundits and presenters, such as Patrice Evra, Jamie Redknapp and Kelly Cates, who decided not to wear Black Lives Matter badges because of concerns over the far-left political ideology of the UK arm of the movement.

A statement said: ‘Our support is for the moral cause and campaign, that Black Lives Matter, rather than for any political organisation.’

Sky also say they have committed to supporting anti-racism and improving diversity by introducing several measures.

Sky has committed to improve Black and minority ethnic representation at all levels of the company, supporting anti-racism charities, and developing new content to highlight issues of racial injustice. 

‘Nitty gritty’ on Sky Sports’ banned list of words due to supposed links to slavery


‘Nitty gritty’ on Sky Sports’ banned list of words due to supposed links to slavery as broadcaster orders commentators to avoid using language which may offend viewers in emails containing list of prohibited phrases

  • Sky Sports will warn reporters not to use words which may offend viewers
  • Staff members will be sent message containing list of prohibited phrases
  • Broadcaster will hold sessions with commentators to discuss language used 
  • Study has found ‘deep-rooted racial stereotypes’ are prominent in commentary

Sky Sports are drawing up a list of phrases they feel may offend – and are warning commentators not to use them.

Sportsmail understands that commentators and match reporters have been sent a number of emails with phrases which are deemed out of bounds, including one which told them not to say ‘nitty-gritty’ amid concerns over links to slavery.

The messages are part of an ongoing drive by the broadcaster to ensure that staff are aware of the origins of the language that they use while on air.

Sky Sports will semd a list of prohibited phrases to commentators and reporters this week

WHAT ARE THE ORIGINS OF THE TERM ‘NITTY-GRITTY’? 

Today ‘nitty-gritty’ is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as meaning: ‘The fundamentals, realities or basic facts of a situation or subject. The heart of the matter.’

The OED says that the word can be traced back to at least 1940 and originated in the United States in African-American usage. 

But the origin of the phrase is uncertain and disputed – and many consider its roots to be in the slave trade, so it use is banned in some institutions such as the police force.

This theory suggests that the expression refers to the debris, such as lice and grit, left in the bottom of slave ships once the slaves have been removed from the hold after a long voyage.

But there is no evidence linking the term to slavery in the first printed examples found of its use.

Phrases.org, which researches the origins of such terms, lists the earliest example of ‘nitty-gritty’ in print being from a catalogue of musical compositions from 1937, which includes a song titled ‘That Nitty-Gritty Dance’, by Arthur Harrington Gibbs. 

There are no printed examples of the phrase after that until the 1950s, when its use was varied.

Some examples show ‘nitty’gritty’ used in its modern sense, but others are more obscure.

In one example, according to phrases.org, a ‘nitty-gritty gator’, as used in an article in Texas newspaper The Daily Journal in June 1956, meant a ‘lowlife hip dude’.

It has also been suggested that ‘nitty-gritty’ refers to head lice – ‘nits’ – or ground corn – ‘grits’ – but again there is no hard evidence.

Phrases.org concludes that ‘it is most likely that the rhyme was formed as a simple extension of the existing US adjective “gritty”, meaning determined or plucky.’ 

Sky Sports holds sessions with presenters, reporters and commentators in which the importance of the language they use to describe athletes from different backgrounds is discussed.

In the light of the recent issues raised by the killing of George Floyd in the United States and the increased focus on racism it generated, they have put on extra sessions with the Professional Footballers’ Association and Kick it Out.

The broadcaster has concentrated on language used, especially when discussing stories and issues concerning the Black Lives Matter movement.

However, the emails have not gone down well with some members of staff. One claimed that they now faced ‘a complete minefield’ while on air, adding: ‘There are phrases that most people would have absolutely no idea would cause offence and that, to be frank, I’d be amazed if people were offended by. It’s making what is already a difficult job harder and it feels unnecessary.

‘There are obvious things that should not be said and I think everyone believes that education on these issues needs to be improved, but this feels like we are tripping over ourselves.’ 

Earlier this week, the PFA urged commentators to address their racial bias after a study revealed differences in how they describe players with different skin tones. 

Findings revealed on Tuesday, following the first study of its kind in football, showed that ‘deep-rooted racial stereotypes’ are promoted in commentary.

Players with lighter skin tone received significantly more praise for their intelligence, quality, work rate and versatility, while players with darker skin tones received at least 63 per cent of the criticism when it came to comments made about intelligence, quality and versatility.

The term ‘nitty-gritty’ is widely used and there is much debate over its origin. Some believe it originated as a term used by slave traders to refer to the detritus left after a slave ship was emptied, although this is disputed.

Last month, Dundee city council said it would review ‘slave traders’ language in council chambers, such as the phrase ‘nitty-gritty’.

 

The Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged broadcaster to dissect problematic phrases

The Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged broadcaster to dissect problematic phrases

SKY SPORTS’ NEW POLICY ON TACKLING RACISM  

Sky Sports today announced that they are ‘committed to doing more to tackle racism, highlight racial injustice and support communities impacted by racism’.

It appeared to back its pundits and presenters, such as Patrice Evra, Jamie Redknapp and Kelly Cates, who decided not to wear Black Lives Matter badges because of concerns over the far-left political ideology of the UK arm of the movement.

A statement said: ‘Our support is for the moral cause and campaign, that Black Lives Matter, rather than for any political organisation.’

Sky also say they have committed to supporting anti-racism and improving diversity by introducing several measures.

Sky has committed to improve Black and minority ethnic representation at all levels of the company, supporting anti-racism charities, and developing new content to highlight issues of racial injustice. 

Sky Sports to send emails to reporters containing list of prohibited and offensive phrases 


‘Nitty gritty’ on Sky Sports’ banned list of words due to supposed links to slavery as broadcaster orders commentators to avoid using language which may offend viewers in emails containing list of prohibited phrases

  • Sky Sports will warn reporters not to use words which may offend viewers
  • Staff members will be sent message containing list of prohibited phrases
  • Broadcaster will hold sessions with commentators to discuss language used 
  • Study has found ‘deep-rooted racial stereotypes’ are prominent in commentary

Sky Sports are drawing up a list of phrases they feel may offend – and are warning commentators not to use them.

Sportsmail understands that commentators and match reporters have been sent a number of emails with phrases which are deemed out of bounds, including one which told them not to say ‘nitty-gritty’ amid concerns over links to slavery.

The messages are part of an ongoing drive by the broadcaster to ensure that staff are aware of the origins of the language that they use while on air.

Sky Sports will semd a list of prohibited phrases to commentators and reporters this week

WHAT ARE THE ORIGINS OF THE TERM ‘NITTY-GRITTY’? 

Today ‘nitty-gritty’ is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as meaning ‘the heart of the matter’.

The OED says that the word can be traced back to at least 1940 and originated in the United States in African-American usage. 

But the origin of the phrase is uncertain and disputed – and many consider its roots to be in the slave trade.

This theory suggests that the expression refers to the debris, such as lice and grit, left in the bottom of slave ships once the slaves have been removed from the hold after a long voyage.

Its use is banned in some institutions, such as the police force. 

Sky Sports holds sessions with presenters, reporters and commentators in which the importance of the language they use to describe athletes from different backgrounds is discussed.

In the light of the recent issues raised by the killing of George Floyd in the United States and the increased focus on racism it generated, they have put on extra sessions with the Professional Footballers’ Association and Kick it Out.

The broadcaster has concentrated on language used, especially when discussing stories and issues concerning the Black Lives Matter movement.

However, the emails have not gone down well with some members of staff. One claimed that they now faced ‘a complete minefield’ while on air, adding: ‘There are phrases that most people would have absolutely no idea would cause offence and that, to be frank, I’d be amazed if people were offended by. It’s making what is already a difficult job harder and it feels unnecessary.

‘There are obvious things that should not be said and I think everyone believes that education on these issues needs to be improved, but this feels like we are tripping over ourselves.’ 

The Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged broadcaster to dissect problematic phrases

The Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged broadcaster to dissect problematic phrases

Earlier this week, the PFA urged commentators to address their racial bias after a study revealed differences in how they describe players with different skin tones.

Findings revealed on Tuesday, following the first study of its kind in football, showed that ‘deep-rooted racial stereotypes’ are promoted in commentary. Player with lighter skin tone received significantly more praise for their intelligence, quality, work rate and versatility, while players with darker skin tones received at least 63 per cent of the criticism when it came to comments made about intelligence, quality and versatility.

The term ‘nitty-gritty’ is widely used and there is much debate over its origin. Some believe it originated as a term used by slave traders to refer to the detritus left after a slave ship was emptied, although this is disputed.

Last month, Dundee city council said it would review ‘slave traders’ language in council chambers, such as the phrase ‘nitty-gritty’.

SKY SPORTS’ NEW POLICY ON TACKLING RACISM  

Sky Sports today announced that they are ‘committed to doing more to tackle racism, highlight racial injustice and support communities impacted by racism’.

It appeared to back its pundits and presenters, such as Patrice Evra, Jamie Redknapp and Kelly Cates, who decided not to wear Black Lives Matter badges because of concerns over the far-left political ideology of the UK arm of the movement.

A statement said: ‘Our support is for the moral cause and campaign, that Black Lives Matter, rather than for any political organisation.’

Sky also say they have committed to supporting anti-racism and improving diversity by introducing several measures.

Sky has committed to improve Black and minority ethnic representation at all levels of the company, supporting anti-racism charities, and developing new content to highlight issues of racial injustice. 

Sky Sports to send emails to reporters containing list of prohibited and offensive phrases 


‘Nitty gritty’ on Sky Sports’ banned list of words due to supposed links to slavery as broadcaster orders commentators to avoid using language which may offend viewers in emails containing list of prohibited phrases

  • Sky Sports will warn reporters not to use words which may offend viewers
  • Staff members will be sent message containing list of prohibited phrases
  • Broadcaster will hold sessions with commentators to discuss language used 
  • Study has found ‘deep-rooted racial stereotypes’ are prominent in commentary

Sky Sports are drawing up a list of phrases they feel may offend – and are warning commentators not to use them.

Sportsmail understands that commentators and match reporters have been sent a number of emails with phrases which are deemed out of bounds, including one which told them not to say ‘nitty-gritty’ amid concerns over links to slavery.

The messages are part of an ongoing drive by the broadcaster to ensure that staff are aware of the origins of the language that they use while on air.

Sky Sports will semd a list of prohibited phrases to commentators and reporters this week

WHAT ARE THE ORIGINS OF THE TERM ‘NITTY-GRITTY’? 

Today ‘nitty-gritty’ is used to signify the substance or basics or core of the matter, and the origin of the phrase is uncertain – but many consider its roots to be in the slave trade.

This theory suggests that the expression refers to the debris, such as lice and grit, left in the bottom of slave ships once the slaves have been removed from the hold after a long voyage.

Its use is banned in some institutions, such as the police force. 

Sky Sports holds sessions with presenters, reporters and commentators in which the importance of the language they use to describe athletes from different backgrounds is discussed.

In the light of the recent issues raised by the killing of George Floyd in the United States and the increased focus on racism it generated, they have put on extra sessions with the Professional Footballers’ Association and Kick it Out.

The broadcaster has concentrated on language used, especially when discussing stories and issues concerning the Black Lives Matter movement.

However, the emails have not gone down well with some members of staff. One claimed that they now faced ‘a complete minefield’ while on air, adding: ‘There are phrases that most people would have absolutely no idea would cause offence and that, to be frank, I’d be amazed if people were offended by. It’s making what is already a difficult job harder and it feels unnecessary.

‘There are obvious things that should not be said and I think everyone believes that education on these issues needs to be improved, but this feels like we are tripping over ourselves.’ 

The Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged broadcaster to dissect problematic phrases

The Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged broadcaster to dissect problematic phrases

Earlier this week, the PFA urged commentators to address their racial bias after a study revealed differences in how they describe players with different skin tones.

Findings revealed on Tuesday, following the first study of its kind in football, showed that ‘deep-rooted racial stereotypes’ are promoted in commentary. Player with lighter skin tone received significantly more praise for their intelligence, quality, work rate and versatility, while players with darker skin tones received at least 63 per cent of the criticism when it came to comments made about intelligence, quality and versatility.

The term ‘nitty-gritty’ is widely used and there is much debate over its origin. Some believe it originated as a term used by slave traders to refer to the detritus left after a slave ship was emptied, although this is disputed.

Last month, Dundee city council said it would review ‘slave traders’ language in council chambers, such as the phrase ‘nitty-gritty’.

Jack Leslie was set for England call-up in 1925 until selectors discovered he was black


The exploits of Jack Leslie have been passed on down the generations in Devon for the best part of a century.

Leslie scored goals by the boatload in days when Plymouth Argyle were an ambitious club with eyes on the top flight until the Second World War changed everything.

His legend is secure at Home Park where they named the boardroom in his honour last year but the tale which endures even further afield concerns the time he was about to be picked for England only to miss out when the selectors discovered he was black.

Jack Leslie was set to be given England call-up in 1925 before selectors realised he was black

West Ham’s players of the Seventies were familiar with it. They came to know Leslie when he worked in his later years in the boot room at Upton Park and recall his gentle presence and fondness for a cigarette.

And the legend is set to receive further acclaim, with a statue campaign launched this year and gathering support.

Leslie’s story was first told by sports writer Brian James in the Daily Mail in 1978, soon after Viv Anderson became the first black footballer to play for England, making his debut against Czechoslovakia.

In the interview Leslie recalled how Plymouth manager Bob Jack took him aside one day in 1925 and told him the selection committee had been in touch and wanted him to play for England.

Leslie played as a forward for Plymouth Argyle between 1922 and 1934

Leslie played as a forward for Plymouth Argyle between 1922 and 1934

‘Well, can you imagine,’ said Leslie. ‘Everybody in the club knew about it. The town was full of it. It was quite a thing for a little club like Plymouth. I was proud.’

But the excitement soon dwindled. ‘All of a sudden everyone stopped talking about it,’ he added. ‘Sort of went dead quiet. Didn’t look me in the eye.

‘Then the papers came out a day or so later and Billy Walker of Aston Villa was in the team, not me. I didn’t ask outright. I could see by their faces it was awkward. But I did hear that the FA had come to have another look at me. Not at my football but at my face. I suppose they thought that was like finding out I was foreign.’

Leslie was born in Canning Town in 1901, the son of a Jamaican father, and played for Barking Town until his move to Plymouth at the age of 20, one of three players to leave Barking for Argyle who had recently been elected to the Football League.

Leslie was born in Canning Town, London, in 1901 and was the son of a Jamaican father

Leslie was born in Canning Town, London, in 1901 and was the son of a Jamaican father

As an inside left, he forged a prolific partnership at Home Park with outside left Sammy Black – although he sometimes appeared at centre half – during a successful decade for the club.

For six years in a row they were runners-up in Division Three (South) – they even toured in Argentina – and finally won promotion as champions in 1930. By way of celebration a giant pasty was carried on to the pitch before the final game of the season against Watford and presented to their captain, former England full back Fred Titmuss.

In Division Two, Argyle could attract crowds of more than 30,000. The Plymouth Herald described Leslie as ‘a versatile player’ who was ‘known throughout England for his skill and complexion’.

Everton tried to sign both him and Black but Leslie would spend his entire career at Argyle, where he made 401 appearances and is the fourth highest scorer of all time with 137 goals, the last of them against Fulham in 1934.

‘He is a hugely important figure at Home Park,’ said Plymouth’s head of communications Rick Cowdery. ‘Ninth in the list of all-time appearance makers and always a torch-bearer for diversity and inclusion.

‘Since I joined Argyle more than 30 years ago I’ve heard the story of his England call-up. We are 100 per cent behind anything anyone can do to honour Jack. It is a tale of regret because he missed the chance to play for England but also of hope because society can change and has changed.’

No documentary evidence exists to verify the story of his England snub either at the FA or Argyle. Home Park was destroyed when Plymouth was blitzed in the war.

Some historians of the club claim Leslie’s physical stature counted against him as well as his colour, yet the man himself was in no doubt. An example from another sport illustrates the extreme prejudice which black sportsmen fought against at the start of the 20th century.

Leslie, who is ninth in Plymouth's list of appearance-makers, poses for a team photograph

Leslie, who is ninth in Plymouth’s list of appearance-makers, poses for a team photograph

James ‘Darkie’ Peters, England’s first black rugby union international, played for Plymouth and was set to represent Devon against South Africa in 1906 when the tourists noticed his colour and refused to play.

Only the intervention of the South African High Commissioner, who was advised the 20,000 crowd inside the Plymouth County Ground were likely to riot if they did not see a game, persuaded them to go ahead.

Six weeks later and Peters, hailed as the best fly-half in the country, was withdrawn from the England squad to face South Africa because of their objections.

On the case of Leslie, FA chairman Greg Clarke said: ‘Stories like this are incredibly sad. Discrimination in the game, in any form or from any time period, is unacceptable. We must always remember pioneers like Jack Leslie and be thankful that football is in a very different place today. We are very pleased to support this campaign which will hopefully ensure that Jack’s career is appropriately recognised.’

During the 1970s the mild mannered Leslie worked in the boot room at West Ham's Upton Park

During the 1970s the mild mannered Leslie worked in the boot room at West Ham’s Upton Park

Leslie ran a pub in Truro, Cornwall when his playing career was over before returning to his East London roots to work as a boilermaker. He joined the ground staff at West Ham at the age of 70, working on the terraces and later with a role in the boot room.

‘Jack was already part of the furniture at Upton Park when I arrived,’ said Alvin Martin, who spent 22 years with the club from 1974. ‘He was reserved and quite shy but he was a lovely man.

‘John Lyall always found time for him and would treat him with a lot of respect. John knew he’d been one hell of a player and made sure all the boys knew that as well.’

Leslie retired aged 80 with TV cameras in the dressing room to film his final day at work. He died in 1988 at the age of 87 without any formal recognition of him as a pioneering black footballer.

Perhaps it is time for that to change.

Jack Leslie was set for England call-up in 1925 until selectors discovered he was black


The exploits of Jack Leslie have been passed on down the generations in Devon for the best part of a century.

Leslie scored goals by the boatload in days when Plymouth Argyle were an ambitious club with eyes on the top flight until the Second World War changed everything.

His legend is secure at Home Park where they named the boardroom in his honour last year but the tale which endures even further afield concerns the time he was about to be picked for England only to miss out when the selectors discovered he was black.

Jack Leslie was set to be given England call-up in 1925 before selectors realised he was black

West Ham’s players of the Seventies were familiar with it. They came to know Leslie when he worked in his later years in the boot room at Upton Park and recall his gentle presence and fondness for a cigarette.

And the legend is set to receive further acclaim, with a statue campaign launched this year and gathering support.

Leslie’s story was first told by sports writer Brian James in the Daily Mail in 1978, soon after Viv Anderson became the first black footballer to play for England, making his debut against Czechoslovakia.

In the interview Leslie recalled how Plymouth manager Bob Jack took him aside one day in 1925 and told him the selection committee had been in touch and wanted him to play for England.

Leslie played as a forward for Plymouth Argyle between 1922 and 1934

Leslie played as a forward for Plymouth Argyle between 1922 and 1934

‘Well, can you imagine,’ said Leslie. ‘Everybody in the club knew about it. The town was full of it. It was quite a thing for a little club like Plymouth. I was proud.’

But the excitement soon dwindled. ‘All of a sudden everyone stopped talking about it,’ he added. ‘Sort of went dead quiet. Didn’t look me in the eye.

‘Then the papers came out a day or so later and Billy Walker of Aston Villa was in the team, not me. I didn’t ask outright. I could see by their faces it was awkward. But I did hear that the FA had come to have another look at me. Not at my football but at my face. I suppose they thought that was like finding out I was foreign.’

Leslie was born in Canning Town in 1901, the son of a Jamaican father, and played for Barking Town until his move to Plymouth at the age of 20, one of three players to leave Barking for Argyle who had recently been elected to the Football League.

Leslie was born in Canning Town, London, in 1901 and was the son of a Jamaican father

Leslie was born in Canning Town, London, in 1901 and was the son of a Jamaican father

As an inside left, he forged a prolific partnership at Home Park with outside left Sammy Black – although he sometimes appeared at centre half – during a successful decade for the club.

For six years in a row they were runners-up in Division Three (South) – they even toured in Argentina – and finally won promotion as champions in 1930. By way of celebration a giant pasty was carried on to the pitch before the final game of the season against Watford and presented to their captain, former England full back Fred Titmuss.

In Division Two, Argyle could attract crowds of more than 30,000. The Plymouth Herald described Leslie as ‘a versatile player’ who was ‘known throughout England for his skill and complexion’.

Everton tried to sign both him and Black but Leslie would spend his entire career at Argyle, where he made 401 appearances and is the fourth highest scorer of all time with 137 goals, the last of them against Fulham in 1934.

‘He is a hugely important figure at Home Park,’ said Plymouth’s head of communications Rick Cowdery. ‘Ninth in the list of all-time appearance makers and always a torch-bearer for diversity and inclusion.

‘Since I joined Argyle more than 30 years ago I’ve heard the story of his England call-up. We are 100 per cent behind anything anyone can do to honour Jack. It is a tale of regret because he missed the chance to play for England but also of hope because society can change and has changed.’

No documentary evidence exists to verify the story of his England snub either at the FA or Argyle. Home Park was destroyed when Plymouth was blitzed in the war.

Some historians of the club claim Leslie’s physical stature counted against him as well as his colour, yet the man himself was in no doubt. An example from another sport illustrates the extreme prejudice which black sportsmen fought against at the start of the 20th century.

Leslie, who is ninth in Plymouth's list of appearance-makers, poses for a team photograph

Leslie, who is ninth in Plymouth’s list of appearance-makers, poses for a team photograph

James ‘Darkie’ Peters, England’s first black rugby union international, played for Plymouth and was set to represent Devon against South Africa in 1906 when the tourists noticed his colour and refused to play.

Only the intervention of the South African High Commissioner, who was advised the 20,000 crowd inside the Plymouth County Ground were likely to riot if they did not see a game, persuaded them to go ahead.

Six weeks later and Peters, hailed as the best fly-half in the country, was withdrawn from the England squad to face South Africa because of their objections.

On the case of Leslie, FA chairman Greg Clarke said: ‘Stories like this are incredibly sad. Discrimination in the game, in any form or from any time period, is unacceptable. We must always remember pioneers like Jack Leslie and be thankful that football is in a very different place today. We are very pleased to support this campaign which will hopefully ensure that Jack’s career is appropriately recognised.’

During the 1970s the mild mannered Leslie worked in the boot room at West Ham's Upton Park

During the 1970s the mild mannered Leslie worked in the boot room at West Ham’s Upton Park

Leslie ran a pub in Truro, Cornwall when his playing career was over before returning to his East London roots to work as a boilermaker. He joined the ground staff at West Ham at the age of 70, working on the terraces and later with a role in the boot room.

‘Jack was already part of the furniture at Upton Park when I arrived,’ said Alvin Martin, who spent 22 years with the club from 1974. ‘He was reserved and quite shy but he was a lovely man.

‘John Lyall always found time for him and would treat him with a lot of respect. John knew he’d been one hell of a player and made sure all the boys knew that as well.’

Leslie retired aged 80 with TV cameras in the dressing room to film his final day at work. He died in 1988 at the age of 87 without any formal recognition of him as a pioneering black footballer.

Perhaps it is time for that to change.

Championship club Wigan Athletic are placed into administration


Championship club Wigan Athletic – who won the FA Cup in 2013 – are placed into administration, blaming the ‘significant impact’ of coronavirus

  • Championship club Wigan Athletic have been placed into administration 
  • Joint administrators have been appointed to save the club and staff jobs 
  • The suspension of the league season due to covid has been blamed 
  • They could face a 12-point deduction, putting them at the bottom of the league 

Championship side Wigan have been placed into administration.

A statement said Paul Stanley, Gerald Krasner and Dean Watson from Begbies Traynor had been appointed as joint administrators of the club on Wednesday.

According to EFL rules, the move may see the club suffer a 12-point deduction, which would put the 2013 FA Cup winners at the bottom of the league. 

Krasner said: ‘Our immediate objectives are to ensure the club completes all its fixtures this season and to urgently find interested parties to save Wigan Athletic FC and the jobs of the people who work for the club.

EFL Championship club Wigan Athletic have been placed into administration

The Latics (red) said in a statement that the coronavirus crisis has had an impact on finances

The Latics (red) said in a statement that the coronavirus crisis has had an impact on finances

‘Obviously the suspension of the Championship season due to Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the recent fortunes of the club.’  

‘We understand that everybody connected with the club and the wider football world is seeking clarity on the future of Wigan Athletic,’ said Mr Stanley, North West regional managing partner added.

‘That’s exactly what we are seeking to provide as we move through this process and we seek out interested parties to rescue this famous old club here in the region.

‘It is a fast-moving situation and we will provide updates on key developments.’

Wigan face a 12-point deduction, which would move them to the foot of the league table

Wigan face a 12-point deduction, which would move them to the foot of the league table

The Latics were in the Premier League as recently as 2013 and won the FA Cup the same year. Pictured: goalscorer Ben Watson (left) with former Wigan manager Roberto Martinez (right)

The Latics were in the Premier League as recently as 2013 and won the FA Cup the same year. Pictured: goalscorer Ben Watson (left) with former Wigan manager Roberto Martinez (right)

The club are currently in 14th, but a 12-point deduction would put them below Luton Town

The club are currently in 14th, but a 12-point deduction would put them below Luton Town

The Latics, who were founded in 1932, are currently 14th in the Championship and defeated Stoke City 3-0 at the DW stadium last night. A twelve point deduction would see the club’s 50-point total reduced to 38, moving them beneath the league’s lowest-placed club, Luton Town. 

England’s second tier was put on hold for 106 days as a result of the coronavirus lockdown forcing football across the country being suspended due to safety fears. The club made its return to action with a 2-0 win over Huddersfield at John Smith’s stadium on June 20.  

Under Roberto Martinez, the club won the FA Cup at Wembley in 2013, with a Ben Watson header enough to clinch a shock win over Manchester City in the final.

Ownership of the club has recently changed hands, with Next Leader Fund taking control from previous owners International Entertainment Corporation, a Hong Kong-based company

Ownership of the club has recently changed hands, with Next Leader Fund taking control from previous owners International Entertainment Corporation, a Hong Kong-based company

The club had been owned by businessman Dave Whelan (right) for 23 years before the DW Sports owner sold the club to IEC in 2018

The club had been owned by businessman Dave Whelan (right) for 23 years before the DW Sports owner sold the club to IEC in 2018

Their success in the cup did not prevent the club from suffering relegation from the top flight, ending an eight-year stint in the Premier League in which their highest finishing position was 10th place. The club have never returned to the top flight. 

The Latics were relegated to League One in the 2016-17 season, but secured automatic promotion at the first time of asking the following season. They also beat City again in the cup in the fifth round after Will Grigg scored the winner. 

Earlier this month, the club’s ownership changed hands with Next Leader Fund, headed by Hong Kong businessman Au Yeung Wai Kay, taking control of the club.

They had been owned by Dave Whelan, a former footballer and owner of DW sports, before the businessman sold the club to Hong Kong company International Entertainment Corporation. 

At the time of the change of ownership, Wigan Athletic’s executive chairman, Darren Royal, said: ‘The support from the owners will enable us to negate some of the immediate challenges we face.’ The Wigan chief added that the coronavirus lockdown had had an impact on the club. 

Championship club Wigan Athletic are placed into administration


Championship club Wigan Athletic – who won the FA Cup in 2013 – are placed into administration, blaming the ‘significant impact’ of coronavirus

  • Championship club Wigan Athletic have been placed into administration 
  • Joint administrators have been appointed to save the club and staff jobs 
  • The suspension of the league season due to covid has been blamed 
  • They could face a 12-point deduction, putting them at the bottom of the league 

Championship side Wigan have been placed into administration.

A statement said Paul Stanley, Gerald Krasner and Dean Watson from Begbies Traynor had been appointed as joint administrators of the club on Wednesday.

According to EFL rules, the move may see the club suffer a 12-point deduction, which would put the 2013 FA Cup winners at the bottom of the league. 

Krasner said: ‘Our immediate objectives are to ensure the club completes all its fixtures this season and to urgently find interested parties to save Wigan Athletic FC and the jobs of the people who work for the club.

EFL Championship club Wigan Athletic have been placed into administration

The Latics said in a statement that the coronavirus crisis has had an impact on finances

The Latics said in a statement that the coronavirus crisis has had an impact on finances

‘Obviously the suspension of the Championship season due to Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the recent fortunes of the club.’  

‘We understand that everybody connected with the club and the wider football world is seeking clarity on the future of Wigan Athletic,’ said Mr Stanley, North West regional managing partner added.

‘That’s exactly what we are seeking to provide as we move through this process and we seek out interested parties to rescue this famous old club here in the region.

‘It is a fast-moving situation and we will provide updates on key developments.’

Wigan face a 12-point deduction, which would move them to the foot of the league table

Wigan face a 12-point deduction, which would move them to the foot of the league table

The Latics were in the Premier League as recently as 2013 and won the FA Cup the same year

The Latics were in the Premier League as recently as 2013 and won the FA Cup the same year

The club are currently in 14th, but a 12-point deduction would put them below Luton Town

The club are currently in 14th, but a 12-point deduction would put them below Luton Town

The Latics are currently 14th in the Championship and defeated Stoke City 3-0 at the DW stadium last night. A twelve point deduction would see the club’s 50-point total reduced to 38, moving them beneath the league’s lowest-placed club, Luton Town. 

England’s second tier was put on hold for 106 days as a result of the coronavirus lockdown forcing football across the country being suspended due to safety fears. The club made its return to action with a 2-0 win over Huddersfield at John Smith’s stadium on June 20.  

Under Roberto Martinez, the club won the FA Cup at Wembley in 2013, with a Ben Watson header enough to clinch a shock win over Manchester City in the final.

Their success in the cup did not prevent the club from suffering relegation from the top flight, and they have never returned. 

The Latics were relegated to League One in the 2016-17 season, but secured automatic promotion at the first time of asking the following season. They also beat City again in the cup in the fifth round after Will Grigg scored the winner. 

Earlier this month, the club’s ownership changed hands with Next Leader Fund, headed by Hong Kong businessman Au Yeung Wai Kay, taking control of the club.

At the time of the change of ownership, Wigan Athletic’s executive chairman, Darren Royal, said: ‘The support from the owners will enable us to negate some of the immediate challenges we face.’

Sky Sports pundit Matt Le Tissier says he will ‘review’ wearing a Black Lives Matter badge


Sky Sports pundit Matt Le Tissier says he will ‘review’ wearing a Black Lives Matter badge as he holds talks with TV bosses about not wanting to promote a ‘far left ideology’ 

  • Matt Le Tissier has spoken to Sky Sports about Black Lives Matter badges
  • The pundit is said to be ‘reviewing’ wearing it over the movement’s policies   
  • It has adopted the slogan ‘defund the police’, which has caused controversy 

Sky Sports pundit Matt Le Tissier says he is ‘reviewing’ the use of Black Lives Matter badges on the TV channel amid concern’s over the movement’s ideologies.

Ever since the killing of George Floyd by a policeman in the United States last month, the world has been up in arms in protest about discrimination and the world of sport is now heavily involved in support for Black Lives Matter.

Presenters and guests on Sky Sports have been seen wearing Black Lives Matter badges when appearing on programmes, but now Le Tissier says he has held talks with his bosses about the notion.

Matt Le Tissier says he is reviewing the use of Black Lives Matter badges on Sky Sports 

The Southampton legend replied to a tweet accusing him of ‘promoting a far-left ideology and said he had spoken with officials about the matter.

Black Lives Matter encourage the slogan #DefundThePolice amid outcry over alleged violence by police towards black people, saying they ‘call for an end to the systemic racism that allows this culture of corruption to go unchecked and our lives to be taken’.

Le Tissier kicked off the debate by urging his followers to remove him on Twitter if they were from the ‘far right or far left’. 

The ex-Southampton star asked Twitter followers to remove him if they were far left or far right

The ex-Southampton star asked Twitter followers to remove him if they were far left or far right

‘Morning peeps, polite request, if you’re far right or far left do me and yourselves a favour and unfollow me, it’ll be good for yours and our mental health as I couldn’t give 2 hoots how many followers I have I won’t be offended.’ 

One Twitter user replied: ‘If you are central Matt why wear a badge promoting a far left ideology?’ 

The 51-year-old wrote back: ‘That’s a good point and one which I’ve made to my boss already.’

Another said: ‘Maybe you should review your BLM badge wearing’, to which he responded: ‘I am reviewing’.

Le Tissier said he was 'reviewing' his use of the Black Lives Matter badge on Sky Sports shows

Le Tissier said he was ‘reviewing’ his use of the Black Lives Matter badge on Sky Sports shows

There has been plenty of reaction and debate following Le Tissier’s tweet, with another user saying he ‘hated this badging of the left and right’. 

And one replied telling him ‘that BLM badge is a bit dodgy’.

Speaking about their views on the police on the Black Lives Matter website, the movement says Floyd’s death was a ‘breaking point’ and ‘a reminder that, for black people, law enforcement doesn’t protect or save our lives. They often threaten and take them’.

Instead, they have called for ‘a national defunding of police’, asking for ‘investment in our communities and the resources to ensure Black people not only survive, but thrive’.

Sky Sports said Le Tissier had approached them about wearing a Black Lives Matter badge ‘as a discussion point’ and the former midfielder was told he was not obligated to wear one.   

TV commentary riddled with racial bias: Alarming results from research across Europe’s top leagues


The PFA have urged commentators to address their racial bias after a study revealed differences in how they describe players with different skin tones.

Findings revealed on Tuesday, following the first study of its kind in football, showed that ‘deep-rooted racial stereotypes’ are promoted in commentary by:

  • Players with lighter skin tones receiving significantly more praise for their intelligence, quality, work rate and versatility.
  • Players with darker skin tones receiving at least 63 per cent of the criticism when it came to comments made about intelligence, quality and versatility.
  • Players with darker skin tones being more likely to be reduced to their physical attributes, receiving almost seven times more comments about their power and over three times more about their speed.

Commentators have been urged to address their racial bias after alarming research results

Jason Lee, the PFA’s equalities executive, said: ‘To address the real impact of structural racism, we have to acknowledge and address racial bias. This study shows an evident bias in how we describe the attributes of footballers based on their skin colour. Commentators help shape the perception we hold of each player, deepening any racial bias already held by the viewer.

‘It’s important to consider how far-reaching those perceptions can be and how they impact footballers even once they finish their playing careers. If a player has aspirations of becoming a coach or manager, is an unfair advantage given to players who commentators regularly refer to as intelligent and industrious, when those views appear to be a result of racial bias?’

Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari said the research only confirmed what many have long suspected. He highlighted the damaging impact negative perceptions can have on players during and after their careers.

He said: ‘I welcome this research by the PFA, which provides independent data to support what many of us have believed for many years: that black players suffer from casual stereotyping focused on pace and power rather than intelligence.

‘Carrying those lazy cultural stereotypes, it is little wonder so few top-level black players make it through into top-level coaching as those perceptions precede them.

‘The Black Lives Matter movement has shown that we all need to raise our game. For commentators, that means being more careful in their language and becoming more aware of their unconscious bias.’

Study revealed the differences in how commentators describe stars with different skin tones

Study revealed the differences in how commentators describe stars with different skin tones

Danish company RunRepeat conducted the study in association with the PFA.

They reviewed commentary from 80 games this season which took place in four of Europe’s major leagues including the Premier League.

Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1 were the other three divisions used in the study with 20 matches from each league assessed.

In total, 2073 statements made about 643 different players by English speaking commentators working for media outlets in the UK, USA and Canada – Sky Sports, BT Sports, ESPN, beIN Sports, NBCSN, TSN and FreeSports – were reviewed. Around 5 per cent of the commentators and co-commentators were black, Asian or ethnic minorities.

The physicality references were predominantly aimed at darker players, too, who were 6.59 times more likely to have their power referred to and 3.38 times more likely to have their speed mentioned.

Just over 60 per cent of all positive comments regarding work ethic went to lighter players, with just under 40 per cent going to darker players. There was also a clear bias in statements relating to versatility. Lighter players received 65.79 per cent of the praise, with only 34.21 per cent going to players with darker skin tones.

The findings were collated from games across Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1

The findings were collated from games across Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1

A massive 73.53 per cent – the highest figure recorded in any of the categories – of negative comments about players’ versatility went to those with darker skin tones.

The only category in which players with lighter skin tones received more criticism was for work rate – 57.14 per cent compared to 42.86 per cent aimed at players with darker skin.

Similar studies have been carried out for basketball, American football and the Olympics. The stereotypes underlined in football’s study are similar to those uncovered in NFL draft prospects on the Sports Illustrated website from 1998 to 2007. That highlighted how black quarterbacks were praised for their athletic qualities, but criticised for their intelligence.

White quarterbacks were praised for their intelligence while negative comments were made about their athleticism.

In a separate development, Sky’s leading pundits and presenters have held discussions with Kick It Out’s head of development Troy Townsend about the language they use in analysis of matches and players.

Players have continued to take the knee in the Premier League to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement

Players have continued to take the knee in the Premier League to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement

Explaining the significance of the findings on bias in football commentary, the study says: ‘Players have been unified in their support of the Black Lives Matter movement, sending a strong message about equality.

‘However, the players themselves still have to navigate systemically racist structures, despite their significant platforms and professional success. This racial bias study makes the nuances of that structure apparent.

‘We now need everyone in football, including commentators and broadcasters, to consider the part they play in furthering implicit bias towards people with darker skin tones. This must be the moment that we all, collectively, begin to address deep-rooted racial stereotypes.

‘We understand that the commentators may not have intended to further racial stereotypes by sharing their opinions about a player’s intelligence or physical attributes during a game. However, the narrative of black people’s primary value laying in their physicality and not their intelligence dates back to attitudes modern society is determined to eradicate. ‘While this type of unconscious prejudice has become less overt, even subtle racial bias is damaging, continues a legacy of pain and has long-reaching societal consequences.’