Ian Wright offers heartfelt apology to Everton fans

17/01/2023 40comments  |  Jump to last

BBC pundit Ian Wright has made a sincere apology to Everton's supporters for his part in a discussion on Match of the Day that painted them in a highly negative light following the club's decision to advise its Directors not to attend Saturday's match against Southampton at Goodison Park.

A club statement cited credible threats to Board members' safety sent via email while an un-named Everton spokesman alleged to reporters that CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale was involved in a physical incident after the fixture against Brighton & Hove Albion on 3rd January where a supporter "put her in a headlock".

Those claims formed the basis of a discussion on Match of the Day that evening where host Gary Lineker questioned whether the protests by Evertonians against the Board of Directors "had gone too far", with Wright replying in agreement.

Wright cited the incident with Barrett-Baxendale as an example of intimidation that went beyond peaceful protest but, in the wake of the Police report and on further reflection, he admitted on his podcast that he may have put too much stock in a private message he received from someone connected to a senior figure at Everton.

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The former Arsenal striker spoke today on his Wrighty's House podcast where he and his co-hosts acknowledged that Merseyside Police had issued a statement yesterday confirming that there were no reported incidents of disorder by fans at the home game.

"I should have said 'allegedly'" Wright admitted, "and the thing is that Everton fans have always been very good and I've never seen them in this [negative] light.

"Afterwards, I'm thinking 'why haven't we seen something? Why has no one filmed Denise Barett-Baxendale being put in a headlock?

"I'm so angry at myself and I've really let them down, the Everton fans. So I wanted to apologise for that.

"On the morning of it all happening, I got a ... WhatsApp message from somebody who is high up who knows Bill Kenwright very well and [based on] the correspondence between them and then to me, I was actually angry at that stage with the Everton fans and I thought, 'yeah, I'm going to have to say something,' because I want them to be peaceful and they absolutely were.

"So I just want to apologise. But now what I want to see is some proof.  

"But one thing's for sure: the Board and those fans... that's over, because they really tried to throw those fans under the bus."



Reader Comments (40)

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David Midgley
1 Posted 17/01/2023 at 17:36:25
He had cojones as a player and still has them now.
How many pundits admit to making a mistake ?

Well done that man.

Oliver Molloy
2 Posted 17/01/2023 at 17:40:45
Lots of emails fired at BBC MOTD producer over his comments, but I wonder if the cops had not released their statement would he have apologised.
I see this as another pundit now taking stock!
David Currie
3 Posted 17/01/2023 at 17:45:34
So first he slags us off without any proof and now he wants to see some proof. Not the most intelligent man is Mr Wright but keep picking up your big money from the BBC!
Ian Bennett
4 Posted 17/01/2023 at 17:46:46
Put your apology on air on MotD, not some podcast no one is going to see.

Damage is already done.

David Currie
5 Posted 17/01/2023 at 17:51:35
Ian 4, Well said he opened his big mouth without any proof?
Andy Crooks
6 Posted 17/01/2023 at 17:55:33
I think it was a sincere apology and I think he will repeat it on MotD. I was one of those who emailed the BBC to complain about Wright's comments and unsurprisingly did not get a reply.

Anyway, the remainder of his comments are damaging to Kenwright and are spreading on Twitter. The tide is turning and Ian Wright has helped.

Ian Jones
7 Posted 17/01/2023 at 17:57:43
So, to put a different slant on this as I may be missing something.

Just because the club didn't seem to inform the police of these 'incidents' when they allegedly happened doesn't mean that they didn't happen. It is reasonable to assume that, if they occurred, the police would have been brought in by the club's hierarchy.

Some of our supporters may have been involved in the banner outside Rafa Benitez's home (I think the wrong house was targeted), so I suppose some of our fans have previous. So why not try to put the blame squarely on the fans?

I appreciate that our club owners and board have often mishandled or misjudged situations badly. This episode is no doubt just another to add to their rap sheet.

Truth will out one day, hopefully.

Peter Carpenter
8 Posted 17/01/2023 at 18:06:18
Well done, Wright, that will do. Now Lineker, it was him who introduced the topic.

I wonder how Kenwright is feeling? Normally enjoying the applause of his beloved audiences, this must be uncomfortable ground for him.

He's got options; show some humility and apologise, or, more likely, call up the conscripts and go for all-out war.

Either way, he's finished as Chairman, it's just a matter of time.

Brian Williams
9 Posted 17/01/2023 at 18:10:14
"The club will make no further comment on specific historic incidents."

And there you have it. That's the way they intend to deal with it, by just forgetting about it.

Danny O’Neill
10 Posted 17/01/2023 at 18:13:25
Ian, I don't think any right-minded Evertonian would condone that alleged type of behaviour.

The issue is where is the evidence and why did it take them until the weekend to make the announcement?

If that happened, then it is abhorrent behaviour.

But as we saw at Tottenham last night, in this day and age, it is usually picked up and reported very quickly.

Maybe the club are playing a slow game. But now they've played their cards, put them on the table.

Tony Everan
11 Posted 17/01/2023 at 18:16:27
When is a headlock not a headlock?

Some half-pissed fan puts his arm around her and says in a slurred voice, “Fuck me, Denise, what the fucks going on girl, and tell that Bill Kenwright to fuck right off”. Denise, in a panic, wriggles away quickly a bit shocked and shaken at the physical contact and rough beery language.

If it was worse than that, the incident should have been reported and followed up properly.

Ian Jones
12 Posted 17/01/2023 at 18:19:25
Danny, agree with all your comments.

I was thinking the whole saga would make a good Whodunnit. However, the culprit might be unmasked within minutes.

Kieran Kinsella
13 Posted 17/01/2023 at 18:31:18
Ian @11,

I saw on Twitter over the weekend someone shared a text from a "club insider" so no idea if it's real but it seems plausible.

It claimed that one of the corporate guests after the Brighton game playfully wrapped his arm around Denise's neck (not to strangle just cause he was taller so that's where it landed as he tried to pull her towards him in a hug) and whispered to her "sign some players."

Apparently she laughed it off although was surprised by the physical contact. Thereafter, she and other club people were seen chatting with this guy in the bar. Allegedly, someone decided to distort this awkward "no boundaries" incident into the "headlock" as reported to the press.

Again, no idea if this is true but it does seem the most plausible explanation outside of the whole thing being a complete fiction which is of course also possible. The least likely to me is that there was an actual headlock because surely the police would be called and the fan banned for the safety of others, even if Denise Barrett-Baxendale, for whatever reason, didn't press charges herself.

Sean Roe
14 Posted 17/01/2023 at 18:36:42
He's man enough to apologise, that will do for me.
Kieran Kinsella
15 Posted 17/01/2023 at 18:40:27
In fairness to Wrighty he said he saw the Snapchat involving Bill as opposed to just reading the salacious headlines.

So he probably assumed this mate of his, who is "high, high" up at the club – so probably board level I am thinking, maybe a contemporary of his like another ex-striker or something, let's just call him "Graeme" for arguments sake, – would not go to the trouble of fabricating a fake WhatsApp conversation with Bill Kenwright.

Ian Jones
16 Posted 17/01/2023 at 18:40:32
Wasn't Duncan Ferguson fond of a playful headlock?
Ernie Baywood
17 Posted 17/01/2023 at 18:42:54
This highlights the board's actions more than if he'd said nothing.

He's actually confirmed that there is a senior source close to Bill that is pushing this angle. And he's giving decent coverage of the fact that that it stinks to high heaven once you apply the slightest bit of scrutiny to the story.

I'm still open to the idea of 'something' having happened. But the pressure is mounting on Bill, Denise and the Board to back up their stories. It was them that chose to use this against the club's supporters. They're rightfully getting pressure back and it's not being missed in the media.

Paul Kossoff
18 Posted 17/01/2023 at 18:44:44
Thank you, Ian, for that, because Saturday night your name was not nice in my house. I thought all this "Everton fans are villains" was a ploy to take the heat off the board.

Shouldn't the police charge whoever at Everton with wasting police time? Can't someone on here actually ask the police to do that?

Oliver Molloy
19 Posted 17/01/2023 at 19:21:08

Yes, I heard this story also, but you would think this corporate guest would come out and give his side of the story, maybe I'm wishing for too much!

Dave Abrahams
20 Posted 17/01/2023 at 19:24:04
Kieran (5),

Yannick Bolasie has applauded Ian Wright's stance saying he has spoken the truth about the situation at Everton.

Peter Carpenter
21 Posted 17/01/2023 at 19:27:08
Ian (15) I think that was a strangle rather than a headlock, ask Steffen Freund.

I used to use that photo in anger management classes with kids. They loved it.

Peter Carpenter
22 Posted 17/01/2023 at 19:33:37
Brian (9), where's that quote from?
Colin Glassar
23 Posted 17/01/2023 at 19:34:29
Everyone knows that the BBC is full of RS fans as are the media as a rule. The likes of Winter, Holt, Lawton and Co constantly drool over them in the written press and most TV pundits are either former RS players or are in awe of them so it's no surprise to me that they instantly jumped all over this to denigrate Everton.

Also, Kenwright's got a few of them in his back pocket with free theatre tickets and drinks for the boys. Good on Wrighty for this and I hope he makes those two dickheads, Lineker and Shearer, apologise as well for their faux outrage.

Will Mabon
24 Posted 17/01/2023 at 19:43:21
Irony is, being wholly proof-focussed here and ignoring what almost certainly has happened, Ian Wright cannot yet be certain that it didn't happen.

So hard for us humans to not speak at times.

Ray Roche
25 Posted 17/01/2023 at 19:47:47
To be fair to Wright, I've heard him speak with some affection towards Everton and he clearly enjoyed playing at Goodison.
Brian Williams
26 Posted 17/01/2023 at 19:50:34
Peter @20. That's what the club "said" according to a story in the Red Echo.
Peter Carpenter
27 Posted 17/01/2023 at 19:53:24
Thanks, Brian.
Larry O'Hara
28 Posted 17/01/2023 at 19:59:43
Yes, Ian Wright has always been a class act: did you ever see the documentary with his old school teacher?

Also his enthusiasm for the women's game. Head and shoulders above a PC Bellend like Lineker and the lump of wood Shearer….

George Stuart
29 Posted 18/01/2023 at 00:13:01
Tangentially, I was thinking of things blue from the safety of my armchair last night.
I happen to think West Ham have a fair smattering of all right players. I think Frankie could do an alright job there like say, mid table mediocrity.
David Moyes on the other hand is the king of polishing turds.
And you don't get a more shite squad than our current squad.
Maybe we should swap managers ?
This is no time for levity I know but it illustrates the wierd times in which we live.
Colin Gee
30 Posted 18/01/2023 at 00:28:02
Well done to Ian Wright for saying sorry, always been one of those players you just know would have been loved had he played for us!
Chris Donnelly
31 Posted 18/01/2023 at 07:54:38
It takes a man with balls to apologise, especially to a whole club in the media. I just hope the rest of the media scum (Talksport and Sky) take note and finally except that we are proper fans, with respect and intelligence. There will always be the exception to the rule, but I hope those in the exception box use their heads, as we are under the microscope for the foreseeable.
Just wish Mr Moshiri would apologise and sell the club to a non Putin regime, and someone who can bring prosperity and direction to the greatest club on the planet.
Just hope we sign someone very soon, that’s if we have any money to do so.
Just our luck to have a billionaire accountant, who can’t even spend money correctly.
COYB as a family we can get out of this mess, keep our status in the league and through peaceful tactics we can remove the selfish dictators that call themselves our board!!!
Danny O’Neill
32 Posted 18/01/2023 at 08:47:16
Larry, you touch on a really good point.

A very good friend and former colleague of mine for over 30 years was introduced to Everton by me many years ago. Prior to that he never had any real interest in or understanding of football. For years now he's been hooked and is a dedicated Evertonian. I take the blame for that.

His kids are loose followers as well. We met up for the friendly at MK Dons a few years back and went to Arsenal in the Allardyce run in when we received our usual Emirates thumping. We met up for the second United semi final even though only my brother and son had tickets. We watched in a Wembley pub.

He's from Warwick, so I'm guilty as charged for the trauma caused to his family.

Anyway, back on topic and to your point Larry.

His daughter started out at Cambridge United and is now the captain of the Tottenham U21s. He has spent countless amounts of hours and money following and supporting her development.

I'm pleased to see the progression in the female game.

Back in 2008, I was heavily involved in Army football. Not a standard to be sniffed at for those who know it.

We made the decision to adopt a "one club" concept. Separate male and female teams obviously, but ensuring that everything, right down to committee meetings had mutual representation. Joint budget and coaching across both teams from the staff. Joint pre-season tours.

I too don't like those jumping on the PR / PC bandwagon, because it's become trendy, but I guess it is good for promoting the game? It's just a bit frustrating to see those who sneered at it suddenly "happy clapping" about it.

No offence meant. I know people adopt different views over time.

Jeff Spiers
33 Posted 18/01/2023 at 10:52:42
Just a thought. Fearing the worst, who will accompany us to the championship?
Jim Lloyd
34 Posted 18/01/2023 at 12:43:00
Well said Ian Wright. You were a great centre forward (blody hated you then though! :) I stood just behind the goal in Glwadys Street end; and you must have smacked loads of goals down our end. As well as a great CF, you've show yourself to be a top man. Thanks Wrighty.
David Currie
35 Posted 18/01/2023 at 17:41:58
Have the BBC sent out an apology yet for the remarks made by Ian Wright???

Has Ian Wright been on the BBC yet to send an apology to Everton fans for his remarks on MotD??

Andy Crooks
36 Posted 19/01/2023 at 19:33:06
Just had a reply from Colm Harty at MOTD. He sent a link to Ian Wight's apology and wished Everton luck for the rest of the season.

Interestingly, he said to keep on enjoying MOTD. I only watch it when Everton win, so haven't seen much in recent years.

James Flynn
37 Posted 19/01/2023 at 23:54:24
Andy (36) - Received the same.
Peter Neilson
38 Posted 27/01/2023 at 17:49:10
Maybe all a bit academic now but here’s the email I’ve just received from the BBC. Let’s see if they stick to facts in future.

Reference CAS-7392619-W2L0N7

Dear Peter,

Thank you for contacting us about the Everton discussion in Match Of The Day on Jan 14.

Prior to the Southampton game, the club issued an official statement saying that the board of directors had been told to stay away due to a “real and credible threat” to their safety.

Club sources also claimed that Chief Executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale had been put in a headlock at a previous game.

This story was widely reported by a number of media outlets on the day, both nationally and locally to Merseyside.

It wasn’t until 48hrs later that Merseyside Police revealed no threats or incidents had been reported to them ahead of the Southampton match.

During MOTD, Ian Wright and Gary Lineker both defended the right for fans to protest and the match edit and post-match interviews were careful not to link the peaceful protests at Goodison to the story about the board.

The programme was acting on the information released by Everton that day but should have made it clear that the stories were coming out of the club and had not been brought to the attention of Merseyside Police.

Ian has since addressed his own comments on social media and issued a personal apology to Everton fans - https://mobile.twitter.com/IanWright0/status/1615340602907828225 (The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites)

We’ve discussed your concerns with the MOTD production team and any future discussions about Everton will clearly attribute any claims relating to the running of the club as such.

Thanks again and wishing you all the best,

BBC Complaints Team

Brian Denton
39 Posted 27/01/2023 at 17:58:50
Peter Neilson, well done for getting a reply from the BBC. But as you say, a bit academic now. As somebody (Goebbels?) once said
"A lie can be half way around the world before the truth has got its boots on..."
David Vaughan
40 Posted 27/01/2023 at 18:03:18
I echo Brian's commendation (#39). Thanks too for making the initial effort to call out the unacceptable.

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