Posted on July 20, 2009

‘I Can’t Apologise Any More,’ Declares Race Row Ron Atkinson During Wife Swap With Black Olympic Hero Tessa Sanderson

Dominique Hines, Daily Mail (London), July 20, 2009

Former football manager and pundit Ron Atkinson fell out with black athlete Tessa Sanderson during the week he spent living with her for Celebrity Wife Swap.

Big Ron, as the ex-Manchester United boss is known, is still aiming to rehabilitate his reputation after being forced to leave ITV after making racist comments in 2004.

And in a special of the Channel 4 show designed to create maximum tension, he has to share his home with the Olympic gold medallist javelin thrower.

Ron Atkinson, who was embroiled in a race row, lived with black athlete Tessa Sanderson for Channel 4’s Celebrity Wife Swap show

When a frustrated Tessa presses him about why he made such comments, he bursts out defiantly, telling her that chapter of his life is closed and he won’t apologise any more.

A show source told Mail Online: ‘Ron and Tessa fall out over the comments Ron made all those years ago.

‘He says he doesn’t want to be remembered for that comment, but for all the good things he has done for British football.’

Ron’s wife Maggie and Tessa’s partner Densign White, a former judo champion, also shared a home for seven days.

On the Channel 4 show, to be aired in late August, Tessa had to live by Mrs Atkinson’s rules for the first half of the week, then took charge in the later half.

Towards the end of the show however, Ron does in fact let Tessa know how sorry he is.

Ron, 70, has been plagued by claims he is a racist since he branded Chelsea star Marcel Desailly a ‘lazy, thick n*****’ on live TV in 2004–thinking his microphone was turned off.

At the time he apologised: ‘I made a stupid mistake, which I regret. I can’t believe I did it. It was just a moment of stupidity.’

And he resigned from his £200,000 a year job.

Atkinson enjoyed a long career as a player, beginning at Aston Villa in 1956 and also playing at Oxford United, before going on to manage West Bromwich Albion, Man Utd–with whom he twice won the FA Cup–and Atletico Madrid.

He also commentated on five World Cup tournaments.

Ron later took part in a BBC show called Big Ron: Am I Racist? where he travelled the country claiming to be on a mission to work out why he made the remark.

Tessa, 53, was also herself at the centre of a racism row involving commentator Jim Rosenthal just last year.

ITV4 viewers had seen a short film about her charity work, when the veteran broadcaster commented: ‘Tessa Sanderson there, she was a great spear chucker.’

An embarrassed Rosenthal later apologised.

The channel said he had been referring to her achievements as a javelin thrower, in which she won gold in the 1984 Olympics.