Inside Lines: Game on as sport braces itself for post-election shake-up

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Whoever wins the election, sport can expect some fundamental changes in the way it is governed. The two main parties have plans to "shake up" the system, notably in football where the possible appointment of a regulator to oversee the game is likely to be included in both Labour and Conservative manifestoes. Any appointee – Tory peer Lord Mahwinney, until last week the Football League's chairman, is said to be favourite – could be given the US-style title of Football Commissioner. Government-backed organisations such as UK Sport, Sport England and the Youth Sports Trust can also expect some serious revision, as can their overlords, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, particularly if the Tories gain power. A strong Labour influence in these bodies has been of some concern to the shadow sports minister, Hugh Robertson, who also pledges to restore Lottery funding for sport to its original level of 20 per cent. This has fallen from £460 million to £217m. The election will pose fresh questions about the role of the sports ministry. Labour undoubtedly would retain Tessa Jowell as Olympics minister but some feel that Gerry Sutcliffe will have to raise not so much his game but his profile to keep her company as sports minister. Any Lib-Lab pact in a coalition government might see Liberal spokesman Don Foster given the job. Should Labour win, Jowell is likely to be offered a strictly non-political role by Seb Coe as a 2012 ambassador. The increasingly impressive Robertson, who has twice turned down offers from David Cameron of promotion to a front-bench shadow ministry, hopes to combine the jobs of Olympics and sports minister. Politically overseeing the delivery of the 2012 Games should make this a Cabinet position.

Daley gag no joke

Tom Daley is a likeable, loquacious lad whose elevation to superstardom en route to winning the World Diving Championship via the Olympics as a child prodigy has been boosted by publicity he and his family have always actively encouraged. So it was disappointing that last week he should have been gagged by a young lady from British Swimming from answering a few personal questions put to him in that vehicle beloved of PR people, the Conference Call. "Please stick to questions about the event," we were told sharply whenever we tried to ask about anything but his participation in the Fina World Diving Series in Sheffield next weekend. Daley, a 15-year-old ever growing in stature, seemed quite willing to chat about more than just pikes and somersaults but no, everything else was off-limits, insisted the over-protective minder. Pity the organisers are so touchy – and out of touch with the reality of being a personality in modern sport.

A touch of Froch

Britain's amateur boxers, now enjoying considerable success under the tutorship of ex-pro champ Rob McCracken, have training facilities at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield that are the envy of other nations. They also have the benefit of Britain's WBC super-middleweight champion Carl Froch dropping in for the occasional session. Froch, who is also trained by McCracken, was there last week preparing for his defence against Denmark's Mikkel Kessler on 24 April and could not resist telling us his new nickname for predecessor Joe Calzaghe: Joe Snow. Geddit?