Inside Lines: Will Brown do the bidding and make it Sir Becks?

It may be a wild rumour but, if not, you read it here first. While England are doing their 2018 bidding in South Africa there is intriguing speculation buzzing around sport's political circles that the show-stealing David Beckham is to be given a knighthood in the New Year's Honours.

Not simply for his services to football – he already has an OBE for that – but to add gravitas to his role as cheerleader-in-chief for England's mission. Just the sort of thing Gordon Brown might be prevailed upon to do to boost England's cause and nudge his own way back towards the popularity bandwagon. "Sir David" would certainly go down well with the celebrity-obsessed Jack Warners and Sepp Blatters of Fifa's world, who love touching the hem of nobility. And there is a precedent. Back when England were bidding for the 2006 World Cup the former sports minister Tony Banks persuaded PM Tony Blair to bestow a similar honour to World Cup hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst, who was performing a similar function to Beckham. Alas, it didn't work – but with all the other hoopla surrounding Becks, a tap on the shoulder from HRH would certainly add a touch of spice, so to speak, to the England bid.

Women in poll position

Sporting nobility certainly seems to lodge into the public consciousness. In the poll run by The Women's Sports and Fitness Foundation to name Britain's favourite sportswomen over the past 25 years, no less than three are Dames – Kelly Holmes (who heads the list), Ellen MacArthur and Tanni Grey-Thompson (joint fifth). No argument about their worthiness. But some might query the inclusion at No 10 of royal eventer Zara Phillips. No forelock-tugging here, we trust, despite the surely superior claims of overlooked cyclists Nicole Cooke and Victoria Pendleton (right). For the record, in the poll to mark the 25th anniversary of the Foundation, Paula Radcliffe was in second place, Sally Gunnell third, Jayne Torvill fourth, Denise Lewis seventh and Rebecca Adlington eighth, while Tessa Sanderson surely should have been higher than ninth.

Fight fans make Haye

More than 700 people attended boxing's big bash, the Board of Control's annual gala awards last week, and more than half queued at David Haye's table for the new WBA heavyweight champion's autograph. Between mouthfuls of soup and chicken he smilingly signed every one, albeit with difficulty as his fractured right hand was in plaster. Think of that next time your favourite footy star brushes you off in the club car park. Though he wasn't Boxer of the Year – super-middleweight champ Carl Froch got the nod – there was no doubt the happy Hayemaker was the biggest hit. Could he be so again at next week's SPOTY awards? If you haven't already pushed the wrong Button, surely there is no greater personality in British sport at the moment? Dare the Beeb discard their boxing antipathy by giving the Overseas gong to six-weight champion Manny Pacquiao? We hear he's a leading contender.

From little Acorns grow

Aston Villa, who have hired the excellent journo Brian Doogan as their communications chief, are negotiating with a new commercial partnership after being for the past three years the only club to devote shirt sponsorship to a charity – Acorns, a local children's hospice. But they are insisting that any fresh deal must also incorporate Acorns. "It is not negotiable," they say. Good for them.


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