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Seagulls should

extend sympathy

Sir: As a "notoriously fickle" Crystal Palace fan, I'd like to thank NJ Baldwin of Brighton (letters, 20 January) for his pearls of wisdom regarding the sad plight in which Palace now find themselves. Palace and Brighton go back a long way. It is over 40 years since the dark days of Division Three (South), when the two clubs were locked in regular struggles against the shame of re-election. But, happily, some progress has been made, Palace spending 12 seasons in the top flight and Brighton four. It is such a shame that Brighton should have returned whence they came. Oh, how we miss the friendly rivalry! But for Eagles' fans it really is depressing being forced to sell the very players on whom we were pinning our hopes for a prompt return to the top, misguided though that might have been. Despite this and nearly two seasons of abject misery, there are still on average more than 17,000 "fickle" fans turning up every week.

A Brighton fan should be well aware of the pain caused by chairmen and owners with scant regard for the club and its supporters. I would have hoped that a Brighton fan could extend the same sympathetic view towards his equally innocent counterpart up the M23. Do I detect a spot of envy creeping up from that footballing backwater?

PETER HURN

Wallington, Surrey

Rugby cartel

is a turn-off

Sir: Now the Rugby Football Union has succumbed to sharing TV income with the rest of the Five Nations, can we expect the Office of Fair Trading to take the Five Nations' Championship to court for operating an illegal cartel for its TV rights in the same way as it has recently done with football's Premiership? I suppose the OFT thought that England were the good guys in trying to break the cartel. ALISTAIR LENCZNER Clapham, London SW4

Aussies queer

pitch for Murali

Sir: It is instructive to compare the way in which Australia has been treating the world's two great spin bowlers recently.

Shane Warne profited from a betting scandal, hushed up by his country's cricket board. A few weeks after it came out into the open, he was made captain of the one-day side, filling in for the other participant in the betting ring, Steve Waugh.

Muttiah Muralitharan's bowling action has been scrutinised, and the International Cricket Council has pronounced that it does not break the laws of cricket. Yet the Australian public, taking their cue from umpire Darryl Hair, is trying to bully him out of the game with concerted sledging. I suppose it makes a kind of sad, contorted sense that, in the land Down Under, the good guys are barracked and the bad guys promoted. TOM SAUL London SE26

Sir: The xenophobic media has been telling us for ages that the British need to mimic the Australian "victory at any cost" approach to sport, especially cricket. The current carefully premeditated campaign against Muralitharan has exposed Australia as an adolescent nation, full of sour losers and bigoted officials. By contrast, when Murali skittled England last summer, he was treated by pundits and spectators alike as a hero.

It may be untrendy to admit that the traditional British attitude - that sport should be a source of pleasure, not a continuance of war by other means - is self-evidently correct, but I feel sure that this view will gain widespread acceptance in the 21st century.

MAT COWARD

Frome,

Somerset

So what is

Harry's game?

Sir: Is Harry Redknapp suffering from a loss of memory or has he simply taken leave of his senses?

A couple of years ago West Ham's manager got his fingers badly burned when he went shopping in European football's so-called bargain basement. Marco Boogers promptly went off to live in a caravan, Florin Raducioiu decided he would rather go shopping than play in a cup-tie and Paulo Futre didn't know the meaning of the word "pass".

I wouldn't want to suggest that all foreign footballers are a dodgy bet, but, bearing in mind his track record, does Harry really think that Paolo Di Canio is the man to replace John Hartson at Upton Park?

MARK BENSON

Billericay, Essex

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