Sports

SPORTS AGENDA: The cap doesn’t fit for the Saudis with assistants trying to flog LIV hats

Where to start with the Saudi-backed LIV Tour?

Golf’s blood money bonanza kicked off last week to a fanfare of awkward silences as participants dodged human rights abuse questions and found ways to avoid admitting the only reason they were there.

There was also deafening silence in the club shop, where – amid rolling tumbleweeds – assistants were trying to flog baseball caps for thirty quid.

‘We’re not allowed to say,’ said one assistant when asked how many they had sold.

There was silence in the club shop on the LIV Tour with assistants trying to sell merchandise

There was silence in the club shop on the LIV Tour with assistants trying to sell merchandise

MCC TUNNEL VISION OPENS UP OLD WOUNDS 

Another storm is brewing over the tunnel row at Lord’s, which was covered at length by former Agenda columnist Charles Sale in his book The Covers Are Off. 

A rent review on the land above the now-notorious disused railway tunnels at the Nursery End, owned by property developer Charles Rifkind, is due.

In order to avoid the expense of going to arbitration Rifkind has, in the past, offered to meet the MCC to discuss the matter over a coffee. 

The terms of the deal state that the rent, reviewed every five years, can only go upwards. In what has been viewed as a provocative move, the MCC has now offered to pay the princely sum of an extra £1 per year.

Another storm is brewing over the tunnel row at Lord's, with the MCC stumping up £1 extra

Another storm is brewing over the tunnel row at Lord’s, with the MCC stumping up £1 extra

POLITICS BECKONS FOR KAVANAGH 

Steve Kavanagh may fancy a career in politics when his time in football comes to an end. 

The Millwall chief executive was locked in a 12-12 stalemate with Norwich executive director Zoe Ward for a place on the EFL board at the annual meeting in Chester. 

A new election was ordered for the following day and Kavanagh spent much of the evening on the campaign trail in the bar. The result? A 14-10 victory for the Lions man. 

NO BIAS FROM EFL DESPITE TORY ABSENCE 

It was interesting to note the presence of a current and a former Labour MP on a four-person panel with EFL chairman and former Liverpool supremo Rick Parry to discuss the fan-led review at the competition’s annual meeting. 

The absence of any Conservative politicians left some to wonder if the EFL was attempting to keep the red flag flying high. 

However, sources have disclosed that a Tory MP was set to take their place but withdrew for ‘parliamentary business’ days before the summit.

BREAKAWAY FEARS NOT EASE

Executives outside the Premier League’s Big Six could be forgiven for casting a concerned eye over the cash-induced split in golf. 

While it is hoped a new owners’ charter signed last week will stop any breakaway plans, the arrival of another US group (at Chelsea) will do little to ease their fears.

It is understood the issue was raised among the remaining 14 clubs at the League’s annual meeting in Harrogate last week.

The arrival of another US group, this time at Chelsea, will do little to ease breakaway concerns

The arrival of another US group, this time at Chelsea, will do little to ease breakaway concerns

NINJA WARRIOR RACE GAINS SURPRISE SUPPORT 

Modern Pentathlon’s decision to replace horse riding with Ninja Warrior-style obstacle racing appears to have found support from a very unexpected place — Pentathlon GB. The idea, in the wake of the Olympic controversy when a German coach punched a horse, had previously been condemned in British circles.

So it was a surprise when Pentathlon GB said last week that a survey of athletes, coaches, past athletes, volunteers and officials concluded it would be ‘extremely difficult’ to retain riding and maintain the sport’s position in the Olympics. 

It is not clear if this support will be enough to keep it in the 2028 Games.

PLYMOUTH BREAK THE SPONSOR MOULD 

In a week when Everton were branded tone deaf for announcing a gambling firm as their new shirt sponsor it was refreshing to see a different way of doing things in Devon. 

While the Toffees grabbed a £10 million-a-year contract with Stake.com, Plymouth Argyle agreed a deal which sees long-time shirt sponsors Ginsters remain in situ. However, the pasty firm will hand over the space on Argyle’s shirts to Project 35, a social action initiative aimed at reducing poverty in Plymouth. 

Dedicated food appeals will take place at home matches, while food donation points will be set up at Home Park.

Plymouth and Ginsters have agreed to provide space on their shirts for a local charity

Plymouth and Ginsters have agreed to provide space on their shirts for a local charity

BBC CLAMP DOWN ON VAUGHAN 

It is understood the BBC told Michael Vaughan he could not use the name Tuffers and Vaughan for his Daily Telegraph podcast despite the fact they have not used the show he presents with Phil Tufnell since strongly denied allegations of racism were made last year. The Vaughany and Tuffers Cricket Club began this month.

CYNICS CAST DOUBT OVER SAMSUNG SWING 

The newly-elected president of the International Skating Union is Kim Jae-youl, a senior Samsung executive and the son-in-law of the late chairman of Samsung, Lee Kun-hee. With Samsung a sponsor of the International Olympic Committee, cynics say it is no surprise the IOC were allegedly active in helping Kim get over the line. It would be no surprise if he became an IOC member either.

MCDONALD’S DROPPED BY ENGLAND 

England have ditched a 20-year partnership with McDonald’s to little fanfare. In a bid to promote healthy eating, the Football Association have signed up with Marks and Spencer to launch an ‘Eat Well, Play Well’ programme. 

A short-lived 2019 deal with Deliveroo, who deliver for KFC, Pizza Hut and a variety of local takeaways, ended last summer.

England have ditched the 20-year partnership with fast food chain McDonald's to little fanfare

England have ditched the 20-year partnership with fast food chain McDonald’s to little fanfare

PRIDE HOUSE TO OPEN DROP-IN CENTRES 

Pride House, the LGBTIQ+ sports development and inclusion organisation, are to station drop-in centres at three of the four athletes’ villages at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

In what is being viewed as a first, staff will offer advice and guidance on a whole manner of issues. Their presence may well be important to those from countries where homosexuality is outlawed.

SPARKS FLY AFTER HUDDERSFIELD FIREWORKS 

A pre-match fireworks display at Huddersfield Giants’ Super League clash with rivals Leeds Rhinos on Friday night ended with a fire engine racing to the scene. 

It is thought one of the pyrotechnics triggered the issue in a wooded area next to the John Smith’s Stadium, with a large cloud of smoke spotted. 

The home side, enjoying a stellar season, are trying to increase often underwhelming attendances but the drama was not part of the script.

EXPERT PAUL’S BOOK IS A MUST READ 

Few are better placed to chart the explosion of the Premier League than Paul McCarthy. The media consultant and former News of the World sports editor has now written a book which does just that. Fever Pitch: The Rise of the Premier League 1992-2004 comes out later this year and accompanies a BBC documentary.

Contributors: Riath Al-Samarrai and Matt Hughes 


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