SPORTS LETTERS

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The high cost of entertainment

From David Barnes

Sir: A lot of people have commented an the "low" attendance at Wembley for the England v Colombia game. Just over 20,000 people found their way to the stadium including (at least if the television pictures are anything to judge by) several thousand Colombians.

Ken Jones ("Fans switching allegiance", 7 September) certainly put his finger on part of the reason, namely the ridiculous prices which are charged, which ensure that if, for example, I were to take my two sons who would love to visit Wembley and see England play, I would have to spend pounds 50 or more. Who in their right mind is going to spend pounds 50 on a friendly international of no particular significance?

The other aspect is the entertainment value of international football - particularly England, unfortunately - is often very low indeed, although last night's game was a notable and welcome exception.

Yours faithfully,

DAVID BARNES

London, W5.

Lowering standards

From Solomon Malcolm

Sir: While Frank Bruno is to be congratulated for becoming world champion, one needs to take stock and have a closer look at the heavyweight division. Unfortunately, his victory only goes to show how far the standards have declined among the heavyweights.

Two clearly second-rate fighters contested the title when Oliver McCall defended the World Boxing Council belt against Bruno. The insignificance of this bout in world terms was evident as not one leading boxing writer from the US was sent to cover the fight.

McCall's limitations as a top fighter were evident as he was unable to put Bruno away when he was there for the taking. Bruno can enjoy his moment in the sun, but will be regarded by the purists as champion by default.

The abysmal quality of the current champions who are all under the control of the controversial US promoter Don King has now made the heavyweights to be regarded as boxing's least talented division. Due to King's influence, the top heavyweights - Lewis, Bowe, Holyfield, Moorer etc - who are signed to other promoters are frozen out of the title picture. This leaves King free to allow his "phoney" champions to hold the titles, only to be the fall guys for Mike Tyson to easily unify the titles and once again be undisputed champion and the promoter's biggest money-spinner.

The sad state of affairs of the heavyweight scene is all the more apparent as the only fight of real significance to the division is the third bout between Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield. This is a non-title bout due to King's keenness in only allowing his stable of below-par fighters to be involved in title fights. With the titles monopolised by "bogus" champions and being No 1 contender accounting for nothing, this may force the leading heavyweights to fight each other in non-title affairs in order to be acclaimed by the purists as the "true" champion.

Yours,

SOLOMON MALCOLM

London, E11

Bring in democracy

From Keith Flett

Sir: I note with interest that Phil Tufnell is not included in the England cricket party to tour South Africa. The sooner the selection process is handed over to an open and democratic vote of senior county players and removed from unelected and unaccountable ex-players the better. Teams should be picked on the basis of talent, form and capability, not social prejudice.

Yours sincerely,

KEITH FLETT

London, N17

Free trade law

From Malcolm Bool

Sir: Re the right of professional sportsmen to apply their "trade" freely within the European Union. As I understand, the rules as laid down by the Treaty of Rome and confirmed by the Maastricht Treaty, a professional sportsman is deemed to be a worker and cannot be hindered in applying his/her profession anywhere within the EU.

It appears that this principle is likely to be confirmed shortly by the Bosman (a Belgian footballer) case now before the European Court of Justice. As we now have a professional English Rugby Union, is it not likely that the Scottish Rugby Union will be unable now to ban their members from playing for English clubs? Will not other similar problems arise if the EU laws take precedence?

Yours sincerely,

MALCOLM BOOL

Surrey

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