Squash: Players intensify attack

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The Independent Online
DEL HARRIS reached the last 16 of the Qatar International here yesterday and then attacked the Squash Rackets Association for the limited prize-money in the English national championships.

The man who helped his country to a silver medal in last year's world championships defeated another England international, Stephen Meads, 15-8, 15-14, 15-12, in the richest tournament outside the World Open. In his post- match interview he claimed that all of the English top 20 were now prepared to boycott next month's nationals.

'The prize-money five years ago was twice what it is now,' said Harris, who is reputed to have made a fortune from endorsements at the time when the event was the British national championships. 'The SRA don't have a leg to stand on and I think they will have to listen to us now.'

The latest fax from here demands that a professional player is given a place on the executive committee of the SRA and that the present criteria for English ranking and selection (dependent on participation in the nationals) be dropped. The SRA has consistently refused to consider changing the conditions of the tournament.

Should the leading lights carry out their threat, Jonah Barrington, the six-times British Open champion and now the SRA director of excellence, may play in Manchester as a gesture of support for the event. 'I am disappointed with the players' actions,' he said. 'They do not appreciate the negative effect their actions may have on commercial sponsorship in the future.'

'This is just blackmail by the SRA,' countered Phil Whitlock, the England captain. 'They are trying to force us to play in a devalued event where the prize-money is half what it was five years ago. We have tried to compromise, but they have not listened at all. Unless they have a change of heart, the matter is closed and we shall not be playing.'

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