Commentator Martin Tyler apologises after referring to Hillsborough as 'hooligan-related' issue

Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler made the comments on BBC Radio 4's Today Show. Credit: PA images

A commentator has apologised after he referred to the Hillsborough disaster as a "hooligan-related" issue.

Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler made the comments on BBC Radio 4's Today Show as he was interviewed about the the Premier League's 30th anniversary.

He referred to "Hillsborough and other hooligan related incidents" while speaking about a time "when football was in a crisis" as the league was created.

In the interview, where Tyler, 76, spoke about commentating on the first ever Premier League match, he said: "It was a great adventure and 3,000 live matches later - not all commentated by me thankfully for the public - it does seem like it worked.

"You have got to remember football was in a bit of a crisis at that time, we weren't that long after Hillsborough and other hooligan-related issues as well, so it was very much a difficult time for the game generally."

In a statement Tyler said Hillsborough and hooliganism at matches were "two separate issues", adding there was no connection.

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."

A total of 97 men, women, and children were fatally injured in a deadly crush as Liverpool played Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground in 1989.

Nobody has been held accountable for their unlawful deaths.

The comments were described as "incredibly crass" by Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram, and demanded an apology.

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

Tyler's comments were condemned across social media, with many calling for an apology from both the pundit, and his employer.

Local MP Paula Barker also took to her Twitter to slam the comments, calling them "disgusting".

In a statement following the backlash, the BBC said it regretted that the programme's presenters "did not robustly challenge" Tyler.

It said: "We regret that we did not robustly challenge Martin Tyler on a comment which appeared to link Hillsborough & hooliganism.

"Martin has since apologised for the comment & clarified that these were separate examples & he did not intend to conflate the two."

97 people died following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

The only person to be convicted as a result of the probes is former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell.

He was fined £6,500 and ordered to pay £5,000 costs after he was found guilty of failing to ensure the health and safety of fans arriving at the ground.

The match commander on the day, David Duckenfield, was charged with gross negligence manslaughter in 2017.

However he was cleared in 2019 at a retrial, after the jury in his first trial was unable to reach a verdict.

Last year, retired officers Donald Denton and Alan Foster and former force solicitor Peter Metcalf were acquitted of perverting the course of justice after a judge ruled there was no case to answer.

Sir Norman Bettison, a chief inspector in 1989 who went on to become chief constable of Merseyside and West Yorkshire, was charged with misconduct in a public office as part of the investigation but the charges were dropped in August 2018.

In July 2021, Andrew Devine became the 97th victim of the disaster when he died more than 32 years after he was badly hurt in the tragedy.

ITV News has contacted Tyler for a comment.

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