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David Moyes forced to apologise after telling reporter she 'might get a slap'

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David Moyes must have wished old Red Nose had never retired. Perfectly happy at Everton, he was almost forced into taking the Manchester United job in 2013 with the impossible job of replacing the greatest manager of all time.

Since then: not good, with his torrid time at Old Trafford followed up by a brief stint in Spain with Real Sociedad and now a thoroughly dismal season in charge at Sunderland.

However, with his work under increasing scrutiny, he appears to have finally succumbed to the pressure, being forced to apologise for an extraordinary threat made to a reporter.

Speaking to Vicki Sparks, who works for BBC Newcastle and Radio 5 Live, following a draw with Burnley on 18 March, he became furious after being asked a question about whether the presence of Sunderland owner Ellis Short at the game meant that he might be under threat of the sack.

After the interview had finished, but with Sparks’ recording continuing, he told her: “It was getting a wee bit naughty at the end there so just watch yourself. You still might get a slap even though you’re a woman. Careful the next time you come in.”

Sparks did not make a complaint, but when her employers heard the audio they were understandably very unhappy and raised the issue with the club.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Mr Moyes has apologised to our reporter and she has accepted his apology,” while a Sunderland spokesperson told the Daily Star: “David and the reporter spoke to one another subsequently and the matter was resolved amicably."

With outrage growing over the incident, Moyes added today that he “deeply regrets” the comments. He added: “It was in the heat of the moment… I accept it was a mistake."

Sunderland are currently rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, eight points from safety with nine games to play.

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