Premier League new boys Crystal Palace have called in a hypnotist to help get them in the right frame of mind for their opening home fixture against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday week.
Putting the first-team squad to sleep is a former British world boxing champion. Glenn Catley, 41, who held the WBC super-middleweight title 13 years ago, and is now a qualified hypnotherapist, has been visiting the club regularly since the players reported back for training last month after a chance meeting with manager Ian Holloway.
He explains: "I underwent hypnotherapy for 10 years in my boxing career. I wasn't the most talented of fighters but I believe it helped me get to the top. When I retired eight years ago, I took a course in clinical psychotherapy, hypnosis and sports psychology in Bristol. Two months ago I was out walking the dog and bumped into Ian, a good friend from way back in the west country where we both live. After talking to him about what I did, he invited me to meet with his players. He told me they have all the talent but psychologically they were letting a few demons creep in.
"Now I see them for a few days every week, including the first team squad. We work on a one-to-one basis and part of the therapy is to hypnotise them, putting them in a trance. It is a completely natural state, nothing like a stage show. Basically, I can get into their sub-conscious mind and talk about behavioural patterns and it seems to relax them. I think it helps to eliminate many psychological problems."
We called Palace to enquire how the sessions were progressing, but there was no response. Presumably they were all in a trance.
Bubka raises the bar
Maybe it was the sight of octogenarian IAAF president Lamine Diack with his arm around Seb Coe at the Anniversary Games which prompted Sergey Bubka to host a slap-up lunch for the media at a swanky London eaterie last week.
The Ukrainian, who consistently raised the bar in his illustrious pole vaulting days, now seeks to raise his political profile in a bid to become the next president of the IOC. Failing this, he will challenge Coe for the top job in world athletics now that Diack has finally indicated he will step down in 2015.
This charismatic Olympic legend would make a cracking IOC president. He's especially hot on the doping issue and shares with Coe the desire to implement a four-year ban on druggies and those in their entourage who supply them. But at a mere 49 he may be deemed a tad too young to run what is essentially an old boys' club. Pity.
Wu takes a hit
Our friend Dr C K Wu, the Taiwan tycoon who also aims to rule world sport – as well as world boxing – has been hit by a double whammy. The world's finest amateur, the Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko, has followed Britain's Anthony Joshua in rejecting Wu's APB tournament to take the established route to professionalism.
The double Olympic and world champion was the stellar attraction in last season's World Series of Boxing (WSB) and international governing body AIBA were planning a massive marketing campaign around him. But Lomachenko is to join Manny Pacquiao in American promoter Bob Arum's Top Rank organisation.
Last week we reported how AIBA's dubious blanket ban on the ABA of England over governance issues had cruelly robbed schoolboy boxers of the opportunity of competing in last week's European championships. ABAE chair Richard Caborn has now formally submitted a 60-page rebuttal of AIBA's allegations and hopes the issue can be resolved before more young English boxers are deprived of international competition. Breath should not be held.
There is always recourse to the Court for Arbitration for Sport, but Wu has always said sniffily that AIBA would not recognise its judgements anyway. And this is the man who wants to head the IOC.