Boxing heading for a double KO

Inside Lines

The governing bodies of both professional and amateur boxing could be counted out in the New Year. The British Boxing Board of Control have already indicated that they may have to go into liquidation if they are unsuccessful in their forthcoming appeal over the anticipated £1m plus award to Michael Watson, brain-damaged in his fight with Chris Eubank seven years ago. Now I hear their singleted counterpart, the Amateur Boxing Association, face a similar fate should they be taken to court over their refusal to recognise and embrace the breakaway Welsh Amateur Boxing Federation. With some 67 clubs the renegade Welsh body need formal affiliation with the ABA to qualify their boxers for Olympic selection and lottery grants, but so far this has been rejected. The Welsh are threatening litigation, which at the going rate for the services of m'learned friends and possible damages, would bankrupt the ABA, who, like the Boxing Board, are a limited company. It seems odd that an organisation who had become refr

The governing bodies of both professional and amateur boxing could be counted out in the New Year. The British Boxing Board of Control have already indicated that they may have to go into liquidation if they are unsuccessful in their forthcoming appeal over the anticipated £1m plus award to Michael Watson, brain-damaged in his fight with Chris Eubank seven years ago. Now I hear their singleted counterpart, the Amateur Boxing Association, face a similar fate should they be taken to court over their refusal to recognise and embrace the breakaway Welsh Amateur Boxing Federation. With some 67 clubs the renegade Welsh body need formal affiliation with the ABA to qualify their boxers for Olympic selection and lottery grants, but so far this has been rejected. The Welsh are threatening litigation, which at the going rate for the services of m'learned friends and possible damages, would bankrupt the ABA, who, like the Boxing Board, are a limited company. It seems odd that an organisation who had become refreshingly progressive under their recently retired chairman (now president) Rod Robertson should, apparently against advice, dig their heels in and risk financial ruin. Yet if both the Board and the ABA go under, it is possible they will resurface as a single pro-am umbrella body, which would be no bad thing.

More shadows over Wembley

When the prime minister, Tony Blair, lays the foundation stone for the new Commonwealth Games stadium in Manchester tomorrow no doubt it will cross his mind whether he will still be around, politically or even physically, for the opening of the reconstructed, twin towerless Wembley, whenever that may be. Has there ever been a more monumental cock-up in which politicians, planners and plotters are equally culpable? Following the findings of the independent report we are asked to wait until 15 December when all those involved muster under the gaze of the Secretary of State Chris Smith to try to mop up the mess. We shouldn't hold our breath. Nothing is likely to be resolved then, even though it is blatantly apparent that the ridiculously expensive, arch-about-face plans for a portable concrete platform, on which athletics would be run, is totally unworkable.The architects seem to have previous little knowledge about the sport, except that they want to make it jump through hoops. For one thing, while in athletics mode, it would mean that New Wembley would not be able to host any football at all, including the Olympic football final. The reduced size of the football pitch would not meet Fifa regulations, so in the event of Wembley staging the Olympics, football, the second most important - and best attended - sport in the Games, would have to be held elsewhere. And if Wembley were to stage the 2005 world athletics championsips, which now seems unlikely, any qualifying matches England would have to play assuming they are not the host nation (which now seems likely) could not be held there because of the time needed to build and dismantle the running track. Crazy or what? And there's more. Marathons and walking events could not, as is traditional, finish in the stadium because there would be no suitable access; the roof over the track would give three of the eight lanes unfair protection from the elements and equipment for the steeplechase would have to be helicoptered in. How did this silly idea ever get off the starting blocks?

Not a penny from Mr Penney

Having shown her mettle over Wembley, the Sports Minister Kate Hoey is about to sharpen her claws on the anomolies of lottery funding for the have-nots in the less glamorous troughs of sport. She was certainly concerned to hear from a number of sports bodies about alleged high-handedness from some bureaucrats dishing out the loot. Some organisations claim they are actually scared to complain because of subtle hints that "if you make waves, you'll never get any money". Lottery funding at this level is the responsibility of Sport England and its regional branches, some of whom seem to be more sympathetic than others. Ms Hoey is likely to be hearing soon from Adrian Mullis, the head of PE at Hackney Free School, whose sports record is among the best in London despite minimum facilities and an annual sports budget of only £860. Mullis has already complained to Sport England chairman Trevor Brooking, known to take a keen interest in school sports when not arguing the toss over Wembley, about the rejection of his very reasonable request for a paltry £4,300 from the lottery to upgrade their antiquated sports equipment. "Sport England have given us a Sportsmark award, a piece of paper which tells us how good at sport we are, but then they turn round and say they won't give us any money.'' A letter from a Mr Christopher Penney, senior awards officer for the London area, tersely informs him that their submission "fails to meet the requirements of pages eight and nine" of the appropriate application form. There is no appeal, yet a quick visit to the multi-ethnic school would reveal just how deserving a case they have - especially in the light of certain other awards, not least to a posher school, in the home counties, which copped £3,500 for a new cricket roller. No wonder Hackney are hacked off.

Everton go to ground

Everton is for sale, but Goodison Park is not, it seems. In the Park Group's Christmas catalogue you can buy models of Anfield and Old Trafford, but not Everton's ground. Which is curious because the Park Group is run by Peter Johnson, who also owns Everton. Even more curious is the explanation for this strange omission. "The supplier cannot get us any" is the time-honoured excuse from Johnson's firm. Oh really? Funny that, because the makers, Premier Collectables, say there are no supply problems. (A psychiatrist writes: "This is a classic case of...")

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