Earlier this week, the Liverpool-based Everton player was assaulted in a nightclub, spurring a column from MacKenzie branding Barclay as "one of our dimmest footballers,”. He said “the lights [are] not on, there is definitely nobody at home", adding: "I get a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo."
This statement evolves when taking into account the fact Barkley's grandfather was Nigerian. Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson was one individual who reported the “racial slur” to the police. In response, the Sun said it was “sorry for the offence caused,” adding that it was "unaware of Barkley's heritage”. MacKenzie also said he was unaware of Barkley's heritage dubbing the response “beyond parody”.
The article continued: “The reality is that at £60,000 a week and being both thick and single, he is an attractive catch in the Liverpool area, where the only men with similar pay packets are drug dealers and therefore not at nightclubs, as they are often guests of Her Majesty.”
MacKenzie and The Sun remains pariahs in the city of Liverpool, a result of their role in the Hillsborough disaster, wrongly blaming the fans for the 96 fatality crush that occurred in the stadium in 1989.
The newspaper distanced itself from its former editor's views: “The views expressed by Kelvin MacKenzie about the people of Liverpool were wrong, unfunny and are not the view of the paper."
The article has been removed from The Sun's website and MacKenzie has been suspended.
It ran one day before the 28th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. Liverpool FC has already banned the newspaper from attending matches in its stadium, Joe Anderson urged their rivals Everton to follow suite.
— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) April 14, 2017
It is not the first time a MacKenzie column has rattled readers - in 2016 he came under fire for questioning whether it is appropriate for a hijab-wearing reporters to cover Islamic-linked terror attack.