Anxious times in the currently rudderless ITV sports department facing major cutbacks after last week's announcement that £135 million has to be slashed from the channel's programme budget. Staff are concerned that the "horrible decisions" the ITV chairman, Michael Grade, says he now has to make will see substantial job losses and a severe reduction in sports coverage, especially if ITV fail to renegotiate payment terms on the £425m FA Cup deal they share with the similarly financially troubled satellite station Setanta. No major decisions are expected before the end of the football season, and fingers are crossed that the sports-loving Grade who began his career as a humble sports diarist and boxing writer (hope for us yet, then?) will wield the axe more gently than in other areas. But after the department's recent erratic performances you wouldn't bet on it.
A bullet in the back?
Shooting is not this PC government's favourite sport, so it expects – and gets – no favours in the funding stakes. A 75 per cent cut will see British Shooting's performance director, John Leighton-Dyson, made redundant, and some of the brightest talents he has helped nurture face an uncertain future. Among them is Loughborough's Hannah Polak, 17, a British record-holder who won gold and silver medals in this year's Australian Youth Olympics. Her family had even considered moving to Switzerland because of the training ban in this county, but now Polak fears she will lose out on a chance to compete in 2012 unless she can find private sponsorship. "It's a massive kick in the teeth," she says. More like a shot in the back.
With the Scottish Parliament playing silly burghers over a British football team in 2012 – we hear they and the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland FAs risk really getting up the noses of both Fifa and the IOC – doesn't it seem something of a cheek that some Scottish MPs want the British Government to help bail out the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow? MPs from the Scottish Affairs Select Committee are asking the Treasury for cash to help pay for transport infrastructure in the city. It will be interesting to see if our Scottish Chancellor plays ball – something his own fellow countrymen so resolutely refuse to do.
No longer funtime, Frankie
A corner cameo from last week's debut by British boxing's Olympians. When Frankie Gavin ended the third round with a deep gash on the bridge of his nose inflicted by his Georgian opponent, he complained to his trainer, ex-champion Anthony Farnell: "Fucking hell, the guy nutted me." "Welcome to the pros," retorted Farnell, sponging the blood away.
A real slumdog millionaire
Manny Pacquiao, the dapper little Filipino who meets Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas on 2 May, began life as a street urchin, sleeping in a cardbox box in Manila after running away from home because, he says, of a row with his father over his pet dog. What was the problem? "He ate it," says Pacquiao. Now a multimillionaire, Pacquiao has twice defeated Marco Antonio Barrera and, after sparring with Amir Khan, tips him to do so too.