BT Sport’s Ashes coverage in turmoil just 12 days before first Test as plans to prevent Michael Vaughan from being suspended are scrapped by the former England captain who has been contracted to Australian rights holders Fox Sports
BT Sport’s plans for its live Ashes coverage were thrown into turmoil just 12 days before the first test in Brisbane, due to the ongoing uproar surrounding Michael Vaughan.
As Sportsmail revealed on Thursday, BT is adamant that it does not want to use Vaughan after allegations he used racist language towards a great buddy and three other Yorkshire players 12 years ago.
But the former England captain is still under contract to comment on behalf of Australian rights holders Fox Sports, who have agreed to provide an audio feed to the BT studio in London.
BT Sport does not want to use Michael Vaughan (left) during the Ashes after allegations he used racist language towards Azeem Rafiq (right)
BT still hopes that Fox will solve its problem by dropping Vaughan, but it has begun to explore other options and is facing many difficulties.
Sportsmail has learned that negotiations with other Australian rights holders, Channel Seven, over taking their feed, have not progressed, while BT is also struggling to assemble a team of former players and broadcasters willing to work all night in live commentary from London.
Experienced broadcaster Matt Smith signed onto BT coverage, with former England captain Sir Alistair Cook and speed bowler Steve Harmison providing expert analysis during lunch and tea breaks. But putting together an entire suspension team has proven to be a much bigger challenge.
Michael Vaughan looked sad when he was spotted outside in Alderley Edge, Cheshire on Wednesday. BT Sport has decided to remove its comment from its coverage of the upcoming Ashes series, while BBC Radio has suspended Vaughan from his comment.
Sky Sports’ coverage of England’s tour of Sri Lanka last winter featured the likes of Michael Atherton, Nasir Hussain and Rob Kelly commenting on TV from London. But Channel 4 got the recap presented by Star Sports announcer after winning the England Tour rights to India later in the winter.
BT may not have that option due to Vaughan’s issue, but it also lacks a permanent cricket staff to do the job remotely, so it’s trying to recruit freelancers and former players. The series’ belated timing hasn’t helped matters, with many people hesitating to work all night in the run-up to Christmas and New Years — especially with five auditions in just seven weeks.
Vaughan flatly denied that he said “a lot of you a lot, we need to do something about it” to Rafeeq before the G20 match in 2009. This week he insisted he is looking forward to traveling to Australia to work for Fox afterward. Being disqualified by the BBC.
Azim Rafeeq said Vaughan made racist comments towards Asian players at Yorkshire Football Club, which the former England captain denies.
Vaughan posted on Instagram: “I am very disappointed not to comment on TMS (Test Special Match) on The Ashes and will miss working with great colleagues and friends, but I am looking forward to you being behind the mic for @foxcricket in Australia.”
“The problems facing cricket are bigger than any individual case and I want to be part of the solution, to listen and educate myself and help make it a more welcoming sport for everyone.”
The European Central Bank has suffered an embarrassment as they prepare to announce a new 12-point Diversity Action Plan today – with the sudden resignation of Leicestershire President Mahmoud Duke.
Vaughan took to Instagram after the announcement to say he was very disappointed that he had been left out of BBC coverage and said he was looking forward to working with Fox Sports.
The barrister is the only female chair of the 18 Class A districts and one of only two people of color in such roles, with her departure a surprising blow to the European Central Bank in its quest to address a chronic lack of diversity in the sport.
Duke was due to step down next March, but she chose to resign immediately and appeared to target European Central Bank CEO Tom Harrison in her resignation statement.
“Cricket has been torn apart by recent events and I am deeply saddened by the hurt people have felt within our game,” she said.
With new leadership at the national level and a determination to learn from the recent past, I hope that racism will be erased from the dressing rooms, stadiums and the game as a whole, allowing us to celebrate the diversity that makes cricket and the sport of this country so great.
England captain Joe Root is pictured during a training session ahead of The Ashes in Australia. The first test starts in Brisbane on December 8
Tim Payne, who has since been forced to step down as captain of Australia, took up the trophy in 2019 after retaining the Ashes in a draw series in England.