Squash: Marshall faces official exclusion

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The Independent Online
A NEW and strongly-worded boycott threat by 17 leading players has brought much closer the possibility that the Squash Rackets Association will today cancel the men's event at next week's English national championships in Manchester.

Yesterday's statement including the names of 14 of the top 16 men, among them the British champion Peter Marshall, publicly demands the instant and permanent abolition of England selection and ranking criteria, and appears to leave the SRA with nowhere to go.

The SRA has three times extended the entry deadline for the event in the hope of a compromise, but now says it will make its final decision at 2pm today. As it had given ground during the process of devising a peace formula - abolition of the selection and ranking criteria this year in return for their inclusion in future national championships with an agreed minimum level of prize money - it is hard to see yesterday's complete rejection bringing any further positive official response.

The SRA said that unless most of the leading players agree to participate it will cancel the men's event, and that looks the likely outcome. Another possibility is that the event will be held and England will subsequently send a third-rate team to this year's world championships because participation in the nationals has been made a condition of selection.

The only leading player apparently supporting the SRA compromise proposal is Phil Whitlock, the England captain. 'Of course I am sympathetic to the players, but I don't see how they will gain anything more this way,' he said. 'I feel bad about the whole thing because the proposal was my idea and it has led to a kind of split.'

Whitlock would prefer the players to seek the constitutional abolition of this selection condition by gaining representation on the SRA executive committee. But a compromise by either the players or the SRA looks increasingly unlikely.