The hockey posse are gunning for Wyatt

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The Independent Online

While the Football League and the English Hockey Association may not play the same ball game, they share a common dread of imminent whistle blowing. The League warns that several clubs may go under if their TV boodle is slashed; in hockey's case the cash crisis is now so dire that the whole structure of the sport could collapse. Indeed, there is speculation that the EHA will be forced to disband in the manner of the bankrupted British Athletic Federation and re-group under new name. Alternatively, there could be a move to form a breakaway body with its own league, though this would need the financial backing of Sport England, who are currently conducting an audit of the EHA's books. There is anger that the EHA's chief executive Richard Wyatt, the father of international player John, who was brought in from British Aerospace to "professionalise"' the organisation, is keeping his job while many around him are losing theirs. There'll be a posse gunning for Wyatt at the June agm but president Mike Corby insists there is no question of him being sacked. "There has been no misappropriation of funds. Nobody has run off with any money. It has just been farcically run. There is no problem with Richard Wyatt continuing. In fact it's essential that he does." The EHA have deficits of £700,000 and problems have escalated since the highly controversial sacking of popular national coach Jon Royce. A statement released last week declared that the EHA Council had been "reassured by the robust nature and details of forward plans" presented to them. As it was issued by the now redundant marketing and publicity chief Ian Thomas, it was rather redolent of the last missive dispatched from the Titanic.

The slalom skier who deserves a medal

The former Olympic boxing champion Terry Spinks is now basking in the belated glory of his MBE, awarded last year almost half a century after he won his featherweight gold medal in Melbourne. Currently he is doing the rounds signing copies of his highly entertaining biography, East End Idol (published by BL Associates at £18.99) and generally lapping up the bouquets and backslapping. As we are told it was pressure by this column which helped get him his gong, we now wish to draw to the attention of the appropriate authorities an equally embarrassing omission. Who do you think is Britain's most consistently successful sports figure? Not many would know that it happens to be a slalom skier. No, not the boy Baxter. This one's a winner on water. Lancastrian Andy Mapple has been the world's top-ranked water skier for 17 years now, six times the world slalom champion and the current record holder. He is already going great guns again this season in Australia and is still the man to beat as he approaches his 40th birthday. Yet his neck remains a gong-free zone. Time this was rectified.

More foul play at Bramall Lane

The sports minister, Richard Caborn, has been curiously quiet about that tasteless affair at Bramall Lane last week, even though he was there. Colleagues say he was clearly upset by events. As a long-time Sheffield United supporter and a former club director, he must have found them distinctly disturbing. So what must he think of the equally tasteless comments of the United manager Neil Warnock as published in next month's FourFourTwo magazine. Nasty Neil says he'd actually love to manage rivals Sheffield Wednesday. "I'd buy so many tosspots – although come to think of it their present squad would do – and f*** 'em up. Then I'd retire to Cornwall and spend the rest of my life laughing my f****** head off."

It may well be that we have already seen the most expensive fight in history – for free. Events, or rather non-events, in the United States yesterday suggested that Lennox Lewis's date with Mike Tyson is about to be consigned to the file marked what-might-have-been.

As Memphis struggled to come up with the cash (actually a $12.5 million letter of credit) the likelihood loomed of that allegedly unscheduled, but certainly unseemly spat in a New York burlesque hall in January being the only time the pair would swop fists in public. With Las Vegas, Washington, Detroit and a fistful of other venues ruled out, Memphis is literally the last resort. But a local bank has refused to issue the up-front money "on moral grounds". Promoters remain "hopeful" that the bout will go ahead on 8 June but if contracts aren't signed by tomorrow's deadline, the lukewarm Lewis will automatically lose his IBF version of the title. Instead he will probably then meet the southpaw Chris Byrd, a fight that will bore but not draw. Ho-hum.

After recent occurences, ITV might have been wiser not to mouth off about BSkyB's digital coverage of Formula One.

They scoffed that Sky do their commentaries from a studio at Biggin Hill rather than at trackside. True, but now that Murray Walker is no longer in the driving seat you'd hardly notice the difference. So poor was the recent ITV transmission from the Malaysian GP that lead commentator James Allen was almost apologetic on their website. Of Malaysian TV's presentation, he said mournfully: "The best you can say about it is that at least they got the winner coming across the line... it made it a difficult race for us and people at home to follow." Unless you paid to watch on Sky, of course.

Exit Lines

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