A stand-off between the manager of Rangers FC and the BBC has been resolved, with the latter issuing an apology for the way it had edited a TV broadcast last week.
Rangers manager, Ally McCoist, had been upset by a report – broadcast UK-wide – about violence between rival fans at Old Firm matches, because of a ‘cutaway’ that showed him smirking and therefore appearing, in his view, to have a flippant attitude.
The broadcast, on Friday evening’s edition of the BBC’s Ten O’Clock News, was followed by McCoist turning the BBC Scotland microphone away at his post-match media conference following his side’s 1-1 draw against Hearts on Saturday.
The story was broken by the Sunday Mail newspaper.
And he talked about the issue at a media conference yesterday. He is widely quoted, saying: “I won’t speak to anyone from the BBC until I get an apology for a broadcast which went out on Friday night which, in my opinion, was appalling.
“Having worked in television for a good number of years I know exactly what went on. I won’t be marching anyone out of press conferences but I won’t speak to anyone at the BBC.
“I can handle left-field questions all day long, that wasn’t the problem. It was how the whole interview was put across.
“While they asked the question they showed a shot of me when I’d just answered another question. The whole thing was put together to show I had a flippant attitude towards either religious bigotry or trouble between Old Firm fans.”
And McCoist got his wish just a few minutes ago when the BBC issued the following statement, which is to be broadcast this evening – at 7pm – on BBC Radio Scotland: “Overall we stand by the merits of our report revealing the extent of violence after Old Firm derbies and the cost of policing these matches. However, we do accept that the sequence involving comments from Rangers' manager Alistair McCoist could have given the impression that he did not take the issue seriously.
“It was not our intention to misrepresent Mr McCoist. The BBC accepts that Rangers Football Club and Alistair McCoist treat the issue of violence and disorder surrounding football matches as a very serious matter.
“We accept that offence has been caused by an inappropriate edit in the piece as transmitted and for that we apologise.”
The Rangers website quotes McCoist reacting to the apology thus: “I was appalled by the BBC's coverage last Friday and the club will not tolerate this type of reporting.
“I was adamant I would not speak to the BBC until the matter was resolved to my satisfaction so I am pleased an apology has been issued today.
“I have always been generous with my time as the media play an important role in modern football but I will not tolerate being portrayed in the manner I was last week.
“Having worked in television for many years, with the BBC, I know exactly what was done last Friday and I was disgusted with their editing of the pre-Hearts press conference.
“Last season was a difficult one for the Scottish game and I think it is important we all get back to focusing on football.
“We all have a responsibility to improve the game's image – players, management, supporters and the media – and I hope season 2011/12 can be remembered for all the right reasons.”