Inside Lines: England or no England, bring back Home games

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At least one Englishman will be rooting for Northern Ireland when they take on Sven's men in next Saturday's World Cup qualifier at Old Trafford. Howard Wells, who became the chief executive of the Irish FA at the start of the year, has already made a substantial impact in his new role, and he believes that a half-decent result against England over the two legs will boost his campaign to revive the Home International Championship.

At least one Englishman will be rooting for Northern Ireland when they take on Sven's men in next Saturday's World Cup qualifier at Old Trafford. Howard Wells, who became the chief executive of the Irish FA at the start of the year, has already made a substantial impact in his new role, and he believes that a half-decent result against England over the two legs will boost his campaign to revive the Home International Championship.

"Surely the time is right to ditch some of those meaningless friendlies and bring back a competition that would attract real public enthusiasm," he says. "I think there would be a lot of interest in a two-yearly knockout tournament, based on two semi-finals and a final."

And if England, who have resisted the idea of a return to the championship, still do not want to play ball, Wells says the Republic of Ireland should be offered their place alongside Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with the tournament renamed, rugby-style, the Four Nations' Championship. He reminds us that Northern Ireland are the trophy holders, having won the final championship in 1984.

The former Wycombe goalkeeper, 58, who held chief executive posts with UK Sport, Watford and Ipswich and is currently the chair of the CCPR (he was shortlisted for the FA job which went to Adam Crozier), arrived in Belfast in the wake of the £8m subsidy given to the IFA on condition they undertook to reorganise. Subsequently teams from the North and South are now competing against each other for the first time in 40 years, in the Setanta Cup, and there a plans to build a new international stadium, probably on the site of the Maze prison.

Sport gets windfall at Draper's cashpoint

Sport England's sporty chief executive, Roger Draper, has been in as munificent a mood as Gordon Brown this past week, though his financial largesse towards sporting institutions has not been quite the same dead giveaway as the Chancellor's. Just the odd million here and there. Crystal Palace had another £1 million lobbed in its direction to top up the ongoing facelift; amateur boxing now has £4.27m in its deposit account to help unearth a new Amir; and the oddball pursuits of baseball and softball have found their funding increased more than sevenfold, to £400,00.

Now Sport England plan to plough "multi-millions" into a venture called Everyday Sport, which, says Draper, will be "the largest and most comprehensive sport and physical activity campaign ever mounted across England to combat rising levels of obesity". It follows a successful pilot scheme in the North-east. Clearly Roger is no dodger when it comes to getting the nation back on its feet.

Amir looks on but he's no ladies' man

Amir Khan is obviously no lover of women's boxing, judging from his ringside reaction to the first-ever female fight to be staged during the ABA Championships. He sat pointedly reading Boxing News throughout the three-round contest won by Hartlepool's Amanda Coulson against Amanda Murphy, of Belfast. But he did have keen eyes for the light-welter final between Michael Grant and Jamie Cox. The winner, Grant, had called him "chicken" for pulling out, but Amir wants a showdown with the Londoner in Bolton next month. This won't happen, though they could eventually meet as the unfunded Grant says he, too, is considering a pro career.

She has been wined and dined by the King of Spain and the Queen of England, courted by the Mayor of New York, kissed by the President of France and now bearhugged by Boris Yeltsin. "I am an athlete, I love sports," he told her.

No wonder an exhausted Nawal El Moutawakel has hurried back to Lausanne with her fellow inspectors to write up the report which will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the five cities bidding for the 2012 Olympics. They are spending four days at IOC headquarters compiling the dossier, which will be polished and edited before being published on 6 June, exactly one month before that other D-Day in Singapore. Nawal and Co have been on the road since 8 March, and the last stop was Moscow, where again she won yet another gold medal for diplomacy. Moscow, she insisted, were not outsiders but "very professional... they presented a solid bid". Doubtless the embrace from the emotional, but obviously not tired, former president made a solid impression, too.

Moscow, bullish after last week's IOC once-over, may yet avoid their anticipated first-round KO in Singapore. That fate could now befall New York, whose plans for an Olympic Stadium are set for a court battle unlikely to be resolved before the vote.

Meanwhile, front-runners Paris reckon they may have scored over London by allowing the IOC inspectors to travel on their Metro with ordinary passengers, whom apparently they found "very supportive" of the French bid. London took no such risks, cocooning the team in a special Jubilee Line carriage. Understandably, perhaps, for spotted last week was a "Leap for London" Tube ad across which which a commuter, doubtless irritated by incipient delays, had scrawled: "Bollocks to 2012!"

insidelines@independent.co.uk

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