Inside Lines: Clive Efford emerges from shadows to hit home football goals


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The Independent Online

It has taken some time for the Opposition sports spokesperson to emerge from the shadows of Westminster, but the amiable Clive Efford has now done so with style as the man behind the newly launched Labour proposals to bring more people power to football.

An interesting chap, Efford. He has some street cred as a lifelong Millwall supporter and qualified football coach. Until recently we had not heard a great deal from the 48-year-old MP for Eltham in Kent, but he is clearly poised to become a more significant player as he takes on the Sports Minister, Helen Grant, on football issues.

Grant tells us: "The Government is already completely committed to helping supporters have better engagement with the clubs they support and more of a say on how they are run. This is exactly why we have been working to establish an expert working group on the matter." Now we will see how combative Efford is in dealing with the truculent football industry.

The Miliband-endorsed plans mean fans could hold the owners of their club to account on all issues on and off the field. Says Efford: "We have reached a tipping point in the way football is run." Wrangling with the FA and Premier League bigwigs over Labour's revolutionary proposals (which include giving football fans a voice in every boardroom and the chance to buy a slice of the shares when the ownership of their club changes) will test his mettle and indicate whether the proposals are more than just a vote-catching wishlist.

Pole-dancing time

Former pole vault legend Sergey Bubka has enlisted heavyweight help in his attempt to thwart British rival Sebastian Coe from becoming the next overlord of world athletics. Re-elected as president of the Ukraine Olympic Committee, he has former world champion Vitali Klitschko, now mayor of Kiev, as his vice-president and cornerman for next year's big fight.

However, Coe remains favourite, as he is close to current IAAF president Lamine Diack, who has the right to nominate a successor if there is general consensus among members. But with an automatic seat on the IOC at stake, the feeling is it will go to a vote and a split decision.