Sir Rodney on cue as snooker goes into red

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The Independent Online

As a troubleshooter, Sir Rodney Walker is in the Clint Eastwood class. The former Yorkshire shot put champion turned business tycoon already has enough chairs to fill a furniture shop – UK Sport, Wembley, Rugby League, Brands Hatch and Leicester City plc, as well as his own numerous enterprises. Now, it seems, he is being wooed to take over as head honcho of snooker. And you couldn't get a more troubled sport than that. The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, once presided over by Lord Archer, are said to be heading for a £2 million loss this year. Sir Rodney is poised to become their fifth chairman, although he tells me he hasn't yet made up his mind. One would have thought he had enough on his plate, with Wembley in still in a state of flux, the RFL debt-ridden and Leicester at the foot of the Premiership. But he has always insisted he thrives on fighting battles. He says that so far any advice he has given on snooker's internal problems has been in his capacity as chairman of UK Sport and he will only consider becoming chairman "if it is the wish of a democratic majority within the WPBSA". The diverse tribulations of snooker are well chronicled and too long to list here, but he admits surprise on learning that the organisation is heading for a £2m loss, which is even more than the RFL will lose as a result of a disastrous World Cup. Sir Rodney promises that impending reorganisation will leave that sport in a healthier state when he steps down in April, a move which creates space in his diary for the snooker role. It is also likely that the Premier League chairman Dave Richards and Ipswich's David Sheepshanks will become £20,000-a-year board members.

Stop preaching, start punching, Naz told

Naseem Hamed's recent narcissistic TV documentary doesn't seem to have won him many friends in the boxing business. Moreover, it seems to have caused some concern among the sport's officials. I understand that several stewards of the British Boxing Board of Control are perturbed over the Islamic outpourings which preceded the loss of his world featherweight title to Marco Antonio Barrera in Las Vegas last April. Should Hamed return to the ring, as mooted, at London's Olympia on 23 March it is likely that the Board will have a quiet word in his ear, suggesting that a repeat performance would be inappropriate in the present post-11 September climate. It is a move that Hamed's former promoter, Frank Warren, endorses. Last week he claimed that Hamed was "a monster out of control" and he warns: "He will make himself even more unpopular if he persists with this religious ranting. The audience won't stand for all that chanting and wailing. I go to boxing to see fights. If people want religion they'll go to a church, a synagogue or a mosque." The opponent for Hamed's cut-price comeback is likely to be Spain's Manuel Calvo.

Could Milton Keynes be a new York?

Whether or not Wimbledon FC up sticks and move to the sticks (though Milton Keynes, soon to be the second largest city in the South-east, would resist the term) will be decided by an FA arbitration panel this week. But rejection won't be the end of MK's love affair with football. Music entrepreneur Pete Winkelman, orchestrator of the campaign to re-site, though not necessarily re-name, the Dons says the offer will remain open to any League club in trouble. This may well be of interest to Douglas Craig, a member of the FA's three-man panel. He is the chairman of York City, currently up for sale and on the brink of dropping out of the League.

With less than three weeks to go before the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, there is a distinct chill in the air as far as Britain's out-of-form bobsleighers are concerned. Sean Olsson, who drove the four-man team to a bronze medal in Nagano four years ago, is currently out in the cold and understandably less than pleased about it.

Not only has he been deposed – because of poor results according to the selectors – as lead driver on two- and four-man sleds respectively, by fellow soldiers Lee Johnston and Neil Scarisbrick, both younger men, but he has been jocked off as an athletes' representative candidate for the International Olympic Committtee by rower Matthew Pinsent. The popular Olsson, a 34-year-old sergeant in the Paras, has appealed against his demotion to non-travelling reserve, which he believes has more to do with internal politics than lack of World Cup points and there is an now outside chance he could go as a third driver. Let's hope so.

A glossy brochure and CD-ROM from the Mormons (I suppose it beats knocking on doors) is a reminder that the Salt Lake shenanigans are almost upon us. Doubtless the BBC platoons will be ironing the thermals but as winter draws on we should not forget the glorious summer of Sydney 2000.

If there's a bob or two left over from the Audley Harrison pension fund, it would be worth investing in the UK TV rights to the film of those Games made by the Fellini of sports movies, Bud Greenspan. It is his eighth Olympic film, and perhaps his best, brilliantly capturing the piquancy and poignancy of the greatest of Games. Happily, the 75-year-old Greenspan and partner Nancy Beffa will be in Salt Lake with their camera crew.

insidelines@independent.co.uk

Exit Lines

I've been to the physical, mental, emotional and financial limits. I know who I am now. Actor Will Smith, who plays Muhammad Ali in his new film... Mine's at home finishing the ironing and washing-up. Robbie Earle, asked what he thought about the TV show Footballers' Wives... I am a prostitute. Ipswich chairman David Sheepshanks on why he would like the Uefa Cup to have a group stage to boost income... They are now on a hat-trick. London mayor Ken Livingstone ridiculing a government department decision to delay the new Arsenal stadium following Picketts Lock and Wembley.

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