BBC sport presenter Jacqui Oatley hits out at 'football's a man's game' letter in Sheffield Star

Jacqui Oatley.
Jacqui Oatley.

BBC sport presenter Jacqui Oatley MBE has criticised a Sheffield Star reader who described football as a 'man's game' in a letter to the paper.

The journalist and Women in Football ambassador spoke out after Ken Tomlinson bemoaned the number of female presenters and reporters covering football matches.

In the letter, published in today's Sheffield Star, Mr Tomlinson told how he used to enjoy watching Final Score on the BBC but now gives it a miss "because it irritates me to listen to reporting coming from around the grounds by at least, on some occasions, as many as six women reporters."

Elsewhere, he said: "Even in the studio they do punditry. You can see the male pundits ill at ease. They don’t sound right and put it over like the men.

"The Premier League and other major games sell globally, and the BBC have some very good men commentators who sell the game. Put a woman behind the microphone and it’s killed it stone dead.

"It’s a man’s game."

But mum-of-two Jacqui,who in 2007 became the first female commentator on BBC1’s Match of the Day, has had her say on the matter by posting to more than 128, 000 followers on Twitter.

With a touch of sarcasm, she said: "Dear Ken, terribly sorry to ruin your afternoon but there will be four female reporters out of 20 on Final Score today, including Sue Smith with 93 England caps, but, thankfully for you, none are in the studio.

"So enjoy Radio Sheffield. Love, Jacqui x P.S. most of your facts are incorrect."

The row has caused a storm on Twitter and had been liked more than 1300 times, with over 400 retweets.

Some questioned The Star's decision to publish the letter, but Jacqui herself said she agreed that it should have been printed to protect "freedom of speech."

Ken's letter in full

There’s nothing quite like relaxing on a late Saturday afternoon with a beer or a cuppa and watching Final Score on the BBC.

But I give it a miss now because it irritates me to listen to reporting coming from around the grounds by at least, on some occasions, as many as six women reporters.

Even in the studio they do punditry. You can see the male pundits ill at ease. They don’t sound right and put it over like the men. I’m sure many more that watch it feel likewise.

I remember several years ago when, I think it was Des Lynam on Match of the Day, and a match was commentated on for the first and only time by a woman. It made headlines next day because everyone had switched off!

The Premier league and other major games sell globally, and the BBC have some very good men commentators who sell the game.

Put a woman behind the microphone and it’s killed it stone dead.

If women want to commentate, report or be a pundit or presenter that’s fine, but in your own sport

It’s a man’s game, that girl linesman didn’t last long, we don’t have them as referees, do we? It’s not a unisex team playing.

So bye bye BBC one and Five Live and hello Radio Sheffield and Andy Giddings and Rob Staton.

Ken Tomlinson