Will Jowell be roasted or just lightly grilled?

Inside lines
Click to follow

They've got the jitters over at the DCMS (that's the Department of Culture, Media and Sport or, as now less than affectionately known in the trade, the Department of Clowns Meddling in Sport). The reason is the appearance before the Parliamentary Select Committee on Tuesday of their boss, Tessa Jowell, who is to be grilled over the Wembley and Picketts Lock cock-ups. Relations between sport and Government have never been worse, and the fear is that the Secretary of State's lack of knowledge on the subject may be exposed to the point of embarrassment. We upset her predecessor, Chris Smith, by suggesting that what he knew about sport could be written on the back of a Royal Opera House ticket, but the otherwise engaging Jowell isn't even in his league. At least Smith was occasionally seen in the stands at Highbury; alas, Jowell doesn't seem to know her Arsène from her El Tel. But perhaps the committee, which savaged Smith, may think it prudent to let her down gently. Chairman Gerald Kaufman has a reputation for being waspish, but last week there was little sting in the questions put by him and his colleagues to Government troubleshooter Patrick Carter, the Wembley has-beens and the Sheffield never-will-bes. Apart from ex-rugby international Derek Wyatt, none of the MPs seem the sporty type, though one did his best to appear so by turning up in a tracksuit. One pertinent question they might well ask of Jowell is whether the Government are going to break another promise to athletics by reneging on the pledge to provide a £40m development legacy for the loss of the world championships. Word is they will pass the buck (though not the bucks) to Sport England.

Royce settles but hockey row rolls on

It has not taken the former Olympic coach Jon Royce long to find re-employment after finally parting company with the English Hockey Association. The 40-year-old Royce has been snapped up by one of the country's leading clubs, Surbiton, to be their director of coaching following a settlement with the EHA six months after his suspension for alleged verbal bullying of some members of the underperforming Great Britain women's team in Sydney, a claim made by captain Pauline Stott, that was never susbstantiated. At Surbiton, Royce will be in overall charge of all sections from seniors to colts. This includes the women's team, who apparently are somewhat less sensitive than their Lottery-subsidised GB counterparts, some of whom, poor dears, apparently did not like being shouted at. The sports Lottery distributors are said to be less than happy at the cost of the investigation, reckoned to be around £250,000, while friends of Royce say he is asking the Press Complaints Commission to investigate what he feels has been a vendetta against him by the female hockey corres-pondents of two broadsheet newspapers.

Sport gets another wizard from Oz

Where have all the British able-bodied sports administrators gone? Not to knock on the door of Sport England, that's for sure. There it is not so much a case of Home but Away with the flavour of Australia increasingly in favour. An Aussie – albeit one with a resoundingly English name, Wilma Shakespear – has just been appointed director of the English Sports Institute from a short-list of three. All were Australian, as is the favourite, a little-known businessman, to fill the £150,000 a year vacancy as chief executive of Sport England following the departure Derek Casey. Alas, one of the Brits best suited for the job, government youth sports adviser Sue Campbell, did not apply, nor was she asked to. Pity.

The Chelsea Six are by no means alone in the world of sport world in wishing to keep their feet firmly on the ground. So seriously are the Americans taking their fear of flying in the current crisis that even their usually intrepid boxing press corps declined to travel to Copenhagen for last weekend's Mike Tyson fight.

Of the customary platoon of scribblers only one, Ron Borges of the Boston Globe, turned up at ringside. The no-shows needn't have worried as promoters Showtime placed security in the hands of a team of former SAS men. And that was just for the press! Tyson, a Muslim convert, made his own arrangements. Meantime, back in the USA, anxiety grows, over February's Winter Olympics. The latest security moves include banning skaters from taking their blades on board airliners in their hand-baggage. "Some are about 24 inches long and real sharp," says a Federal Aviation spokesman.

It may be of some small consolation to the much-lampooned Richard Caborn that he is not alone in being a bit of a duffer at naming names on sports quizzes. For the past seven weeks on his BBC Radio 5 Live Saturday morning Matchday slot, John Motson has been asking top footballers to identify the sports minister. All have failed. Paul Merson even thought it was Tony Blair and yesterday it was the turn of Tottenham's Tim Sherwood to scratch his head. "It ain't Kate Hoey," he mused. "And I don't think it's the Chelsea bloke, is it?" Unsure whether he meant Ken Bates, David Mellor or Tony Banks, Motty gently informed Sherwood that it was, indeed, Richard Caborn, who is at least known to his staff, albeit as Paddington Bear.


Exit Lines

You're old too soon and smart too late. Boxer Mike Tyson turns philosopher. Looking after 20 very rich footballers is bad for your health. Chillingly prophetic observation by Gérard Houllier to David O'Leary before last Saturday's game. We've got Matteo, you've got Pinnochio. Chant from Leeds fans as Phil Thompson took his place on the Liverpool bench. Players have consulted with wives, girlfriends, boyfriends. Chelsea spokesman Gwyn Williams on club's Uefa Cup visit to Israel. God is not behind assassins. Muhammad Ali on killing in the name of Islam.