Football: INSIDE LINES

Bosses get a yes from minister

First the good news. The Minister for Sport, Kate Hoey, will agree to a summit meeting with the leaders of Britain's major sports in October before she puts the finishing touches to the Government's own long-awaited game plan. Her response to last week's warning from the chief executives of the seven main spectator sports that Britain will end up on the sporting scrapheap if the Government doesn't pull its finger out will be friendly and positive, although the request for Tony Blair and other ministers to be included in these unprecedented discussions is likely to go unheeded. The Prime Minister believes sport's first lady is more than capable of fighting her own corner. I understand Hoey is prepared to consider embracing some of their proposals into the Strategy for Sport document, the first draft of which, largely drawn up by her predecessor Tony Banks, is at present on her desk. The bad news, as the representatives of the frequently less-than-magnificent-seven top sports will discover, is that this is likely to involve a spot of counter-punching. Sport may be demanding a more co-ordinated policy from the Government but this is precisely what the Government wants from sport, which will be asked to put its own house in order by streamlining its unwieldy administration and exercising greater professionalism in its decision-making. Rugby league's Maurice Lindsay, chairman of the Central Council of Physical Recreation's major spectator sports division, which also wants to see sport given a full-blown ministry of its own, acknowledges that radical changes still have to be made but reckons that in any case blazers are rapidly going out of fashion. "To be a sports administrator these days you have to be experienced in law, finance and chemistry as well as man-management. The days of going around foreign embassies swilling cocktails have long gone." Presumably they now leave this to the politicians.

Time to blow the whistle, News section, page 19

Victim of his own vanity

Big Audley Harrison, England's Ali-mouthed super-heavyweight heavyweight hope, may have been beaten, but he is still upbeat. The giant Londoner lost on a dubious points decision to Turkey's Siren Samil in the controversy- ravaged World Amateur Boxing Championships in Houston,and came away without his promised medal, but reckons he was the victim of political in-fighting - and his own vanity. A couple of years ago the England ABA chairman Rod Robertson upset the authorities by trying to get a Turkish official banned after an attempt to bribe a British referee, and Harrison thinks it may have been pay-back time in Texas. "The decision stank," he tells me. "But even so I deserved to lose. I should have knocked him out but I was too cocky. I started believing in my own hype and made some silly mistakes. But I've learned. It will be different in the Olympics." There are millions of reasons he hopes he's right, all of them pound notes which, unless he strikes gold in Sydney, will be blowing in the wind. Four judges were suspended during the championships and two Cuban officials banned following a protest walk-out which cost the heavyweight Felix Savon his chance of a seventh successive shot at the title.

The shakers are moving

The Football League's lively chief executive Richard Scudamore yesterday accepted the offer he was hardly likely to refuse, promotion to the Premiership where he will do the same job for around twice the salary. The 40-year- old much-in-demand ex-newspaper executive, who had also been interviewed for the eight-months-old vacancy at the FA, has been with the League for just over a year. Sport's spin doctors are also deserting their surgeries. The Football League public relations manager Chris Hull has transferred to Swindon to take up a similar post with the League's sponsors, Nationwide, and Australia beckons not only for Jayne Pearce, spokesperson for UK Athletics, who is to work for Sydney's Olympic Organising Committee, but Brian Murgatroyd, senior media relations manager with the England Cricket Board.He is taking up a similar position with the Australian body, presumably relieved at no longer having to play defensively off the back foot.

All foreign to them

Why do we never learn when it comes to dealing with those foreign chappies? Organisers of London's bid to host the 2003 World Athletics Championships laid on a cocktail party at a swish Seville restaurant during the championships to extol the yet-to-be-built delights of New Wembley. Kate Hoey, Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare and assorted other VIPs merrily indulged in the the canapes and banter with representatives of the British press. But apparently no one thought to invite the overseas media, the very people who could give the bid a boost if they liked what they heard (and most of them do speak English, you know). The international athletics chief Primo Nebiolo popped in briefly but the absence of foreign scribes would not have done much to alleviate his well-known Anglophobia. Nor London's fast-receding hopes, we suspect. His Nebs seems to be nodding in the direction of Paris.

A little more positive

Alas, those drugs stories, like some of the culprits, just run and run. More chemical capers yesterday in Amman, Jordan, where six bodybuilders competing in the Arab Championships tested positive for steroid substances, including the muscleman's friend, Nadrolone. No doubt they'll claim they swallowed it unknowingly in their cous-cous but in the world of bulging biceps the only real surprise would have been if the tests were negative.

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