Inside Lines: FA put our Olympic heroes straight on sporting finances


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The Independent Online

The Football Association obviously thought they could cash in on Olympic glory by inviting 17 of Britain's medal-winners to Wembley for last week's England game with Ukraine.

But it was the Olympians themselves who wanted to cash in, some of their new-found representatives asking for payment for the accompanying media interviews the FA had planned. These were quietly called off, the FA pointing out that players they put up for post-match interviews themselves are never paid. Curiously, I learn that none of the three boxing gold medallists introduced to the crowd, Anthony Joshua, Luke Campbell and Nicola Adams, asked for money, though Joshua did decline to be interviewed – because he is fed up being asked when he will turn pro.

Shame on you, Barry

Back in the days when the ubiquitous Mickey Duff was the dominant promotional figure in British boxing, he frequently employed the services of one Johnny Bos, an American agent known in the thick-ear trade as The Gravedigger because he was required to "dig up dead bodies" as easy-touch opponents for British fighters. One suspects Mr Bos will again be getting a couple of calls before Andrew Flintoff and Ricky Hatton make their ring appearances (although apparently Hatton has already had a comeback scrap with his own father, Ray) a week apart in Manchester next month. Both ill-conceived happenings make a mockery of the once-noble art and one surprising aspect is the role of one of our most respected former world champions Barry McGuigan. No one has campaigned more vigorously for the safety and welfare of fighters yet he is helping to train cricketer Flintoff (retired hurt) while openly backing the return of The Hitman who, he argues, even after those brutal hammerings by Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, a three-year absence filled with binge-eating and drinking, and a flirtation with drugs which cost him his licence, is still capable of regaining a world title. Would McGuigan bet his house on it? Flintoff's dubious ambition is laughable, but Hatton's comeback is seriously worrying. So what is behind it? He is said to be worth more than £25 million so it can't be money. More likely missing the roar of the crowd and the accompanying boredom that are the bane of so many ex-fighters. "Dead bodies" permitting, what we hear is that a "super-fight" between Hatton and Amir Khan, himself seeking a new trainer and a way back after two successive losses, is being lined up for next spring. Please, somebody ring the bell!

New roles please

It has not taken long for the principal architects of London 2012 to find themselves head-hunted. Lord Coe is wanted to chair the British Olympic Association, chief executive Paul Deighton, the financial wizard behind the Games coming in under budget, is going to the House of Lords as a Treasury minister, and sports director Debbie Jevans has been hired to organise rugby's 2015 World Cup. Now Sir Craig Reedie, who helped mastermind the original London bid and was a Locog board member, has been named chairman of the IOC Commission that will evaluate the candidatures of Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Scot, 71, a former chairman of the BOA and now an IOC vice-president, will lead a team of eight members examining the potential of the three cities before a decision is made in October next year.

Loss leader at boa?

Could one of the reasons why the cash-strapped BOA are so keen to install Lord Coe (left) as their next chairman be because he would be well-placed to facilitate a first-ever handout from the Government, or Locog's 2012 budget surplus, that would help plug the anticipated shortfall of about £2 million in their post-Games finances? Before then over £500,000 could be saved with the rumoured impending departure of three senior executives.