Michael Vaughan will be exiled from English coverage of the Ashes this winter due to the racism allegations made against him by Azeem Rafiq, with BT Sport making it clear that they will not broadcast any commentary involving the former England captain when the series begins in Brisbane next month.
The 2005 Ashes-winning captain was stood down by BBC radio for ‘editorial reasons’ earlier today, and Sportsmail has learned that he will also be blocked from appearing on BT Sport, who have the exclusive UK TV rights for the five-match series.
BT Sport’s position is complicated by the fact that they are not sending a commentary team to Australia and are instead planning to use an audio feed provided by Australian rights holders Fox Sports, who have a long-standing contract with Vaughan they are planning to honour.
It is understood that BT Sport executives have told Fox that they do not want to take a feed featuring Vaughan however, and will make alternative arrangements for their commentary if necessary.
Fox have so far indicated that they plan to stand by Vaughan, but may come under pressure to change their position given he has been dropped by the BBC.
Michael Vaughan looked sullen as he was spotted out and about in Alderley Edge, Cheshire on Wednesday. BT Sport have decided to cut his commentary from their coverage of the upcoming Ashes series, while BBC Radio have stood Vaughan down from their commentary
Azeem Rafiq alleged Vaughan made racist remarks towards Asian players at Yorkshire CCC, claims the former England captain denies
If not then BT Sport will alter their own plans, which could see them attempt to assemble their own team to commentate remotely from a studio in London or take a feed from the other Australian rights holders Channel 7, whose commentary team for the Ashes includes Sir Ian Botham, Ricky Ponting, Damien Fleming and Simon Katich.
Vaughan has previously appeared on BT Sport on a freelance punditry basis, but does not have a contract with the broadcaster unlike with Fox, whose commentary team that BT were planning to use also includes Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist and Mark Waugh.
The 47-year-old strongly denies making racist comments towards Rafiq, but the BBC have opted not to use him on Test Match Special or Radio Five Live this winter due allegations made against him.
‘While he is involved in a significant story in cricket, for editorial reasons we do not believe that it would be appropriate for Michael Vaughan to have a role in our Ashes team or wider coverage of the sport at the moment,’ the BBC said in statement.
‘We require our contributors to talk about relevant topics and his involvement in the Yorkshire story represents a conflict of interest.’
Vaughan issued a defiant statement yesterday insisting he is looking forward to travelling to Australia to work for Fox.
Vaughan took to Instagram after the announcement to say he was ‘very disappointed’ he was taken off the BBC’s coverage and said he was looking forward to working with Fox Sports
England captain Joe Root pictured during a training session ahead of the Ashes in Australia. The first Test gets underway in Brisbane on December 8
‘Very disappointed not to be commentating for TMS on the Ashes and will miss working with great colleagues & friends, but looking forward to being behind the mic for @foxcricket in Australia,’ he posted on Instagram.
‘The issues facing cricket are bigger than any individual case and I want to be part of the solution, listening, educating myself and helping to make it a more welcoming sport for all.’
Rafiq has alleged Vaughan said ‘too many of you lot, we need to do something about it’ to him and three other players before a Twenty20 Blast match for Yorkshire in 2009.
The former off-spinner’s account was supported by former Pakistan bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and England leg-spinner Adil Rashid, although the fourth player in the group Azmal Shahzad has said he has not recollection of the incident.
Tim Paine, who has since been forced to step down as Australia captain, with the trophy in 2019 after they retained the Ashes in a drawn series in England