Karren Brady versus Richard Keys: there's a match that would be well worth watching. The off-mike commentary clip in which Brady, vice-chair of West Ham United, was sarcastically referred to by Sky Sports pundits Richard Keys and Andy Gray last Saturday has now gone viral.
The idiotic pair only served to confirm Uefa's findings days earlier that football is "institutionally sexist" and also Brady's own assertion in her regular column in the Sun about experiencing an increased amount of sexism in the sport. Keys' comments about her were bad enough, but it was both his and Andy Gray's insults about lineswoman Sian Massey during the Wolves and Liverpool game that made the 41-year-old's "blood boil".
"What was said about me is a personal opinion and everyone is entitled to that. What really upsets me is the fact only females in our industry are judged by their gender," she wrote. It had never occurred to her that the two men held such views, either privately or publicly, she added. "It almost makes it worse that they're speaking when the microphones are not on, because [they have] never really had the brass neck to say it publicly. I have heard it and I don't believe it is just banter."
She's not alone. Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand labelled the two presenters "prehistoric". Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish asserted that "if you're good at your job, your gender should not be a restraint". And Karren Brady is a classic example of this in action – not least because she provides a jarring contrast to the man she shares the West Ham job with, publisher David Sullivan, whose other business is in what can be politely described as the 'adult entertainment' industry.
Brady gained media experience at Saatchi & Saatchi and the London Broadcasting Company before Sullivan made her a director at his publishing company. She was still only 20.
By 23, she was head of management at Birmingham City football club and turned the loss-making outfit into a profit-making one. She was the youngest ever MD of a PLC in the UK, and stayed at the club for another 16 years. She has also hosted her own TV show, The Brady Bunch, and is an insightful football columnist. Last year, she was back on TV screens as a judge on The Apprentice.
Her first love is still the beautiful game, so much so that she even married a former footballer turned manager (Paul Peschisolido of Burton Albion). There was tut-tutting in the media over her return to her desk within days of giving birth to each of her children. Then four years ago, following successful surgery for a cerebral aneurysm, she "became more disciplined" about taking time off.
As someone who has risen to the top in a business still paying huge salaries to those with neanderthal views about women, Brady could channel her anger into advising BSkyB on its bid to create a softer, more balanced image.