Serious questions have been about whether Martin Tyler should commentate on Liverpool games any more after he was forced to apologise for comments on the Hillsborough disaster this morning.
The 76-year-old was speaking on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning and linked Hillsborough to hooliganism.
Hello @BBCr4today @BBCSounds
I take it you’ll be issuing an on air correction of this false claim by @SkySports commentator Martin Tyler that #Hillsborough was a “hooligan related issue” pic.twitter.com/fM6frRngjd
— Tom Dunn (@tomdunn26) August 5, 2022
"You could remember that 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."
Tyler's comments are undoubtedly out of line after 97 innocent fans lost their lives during the FA Cup semifinal match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989.
The comments were immediately rebuked by Liverpool supporters. The mayor of Liverpool Steve Rotherham described the comments as a 'foul smear' and 'exceptionally crass'.
"Hillsborough and OTHER hooligan related incidents"
Exceptionally crass comments from Martin Tyler on @BBCr4today - a man who should know much better.
Even now, people whose careers are built on football still spread these foul smears. I hope there'll be an apology sharpish.
— Steve Rotheram (@MetroMayorSteve) August 5, 2022
Martin Tyler releases statement
Martin Tyler has issued an apology for the comments this morning, saying:
"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"
The BBC issued a statement expressing their regret that Tyler was not challenged for the claim.
Interview on @BBCr4today
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.
— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) August 5, 2022
The Sky Sports commentator has been quick to issue a statement, but an apology will likely not help his relationship between him and Liverpool supporters, which was already damaged.
For years afterwards, the South Yorkshire Police fed false stories to the press, blaming the Liverpool fans for the disaster. They suggested that fan hooliganism and drunkeness by Liverpool supporters had caused the incident.
After this, the families of the victims fought back and it was announced that the Liverpool fans were not to blame. They ruled that the supporters were unlawfully killed due to grossly negligent failures by police and ambulance services to fulfil their duty of care.
Police had opened extra turnstiles leading to an overflow of supporters entering the terrace and being crushed as a result.
For the families of the 97 victims, they had to suffer in silence for years and even now that the findings have been released and that it was in fact the police to be blamed rather than Liverpool supporters, for a figure like Martin Tyler - seen by many as the voice of football in England - to come out and label the disaster as football hooliganism is troubling.