Edition number 25; dateline 6 March 2009

Salmond axes sports minister
Stewart Maxwell is one of three second-rank ministers who have been “invited to resign” by SNP leader Alex Salmond. The responsibility for sport in the Holyrood parliament will pass to Alex Neil, who once famously said that hell would freeze over before Salmond would give him a job. The upside for the Scottish Sports Development Conference is that firebrand Margo Macdonald MSP will step in to deliver the political keynote in her role as convenor of the cross-party parliamentary group on sport. Macdonald has trenchant views on many subjects and is a direct and engaging speaker.

New name for NGB
The governing body for squash, and indeed racketball, has rebranded and will now be called England Squash & Racketball - complete with an ampersand and a 21st century logo. Chief executive Nick Rider told us: “Our vision is to increase the popularity and profile of both sports, continue to raise levels of success at international level and to run the sports according to the highest standards of governance, management and ethics. In order to achieve this we felt that the organisation needed a new identity, one that truly represented our aspirations to be modern, vibrant, and professional.”

New money for communities
Sport England have announced a new community funding stream due to come into affect on 1 April. The £10 million investment fund “will create sporting opportunities for people in rural areas”. Rurality is the first of a developing range of foci designed by the agency to “tackle specific challenges and opportunities that we know exist in grassroots sport as well as helping to ensure that our investment is effectively distributed across the country and across different communities.”

Competition coming for Jeremy Kyle
The UK is set to have a television channel dedicated to health and particularly fitness from this summer. Fitness TV, which will be free to air on Sky, has set itself the target of 600,000 viewers per week by the end of its first year and is hoping to give the health and fitness sector an opportunity to reach a national audience. According to Luan Underwood, managing director of Media Fitness Ltd, which is launching the channel, it will “cater for everyone interested in fitness, with programmes ranging from Bangra-inspired dance sessions and pole dancing through to men’s resistance training and children’s yoga.”

Ryder Cup legacy felt
Following the third and final round of applications to the Ryder Cup Wales Legacy Fund, seven new projects have been awarded a total of £300,000 to help them build and improve publicly accessible golf facilities throughout Wales. Set up as part of the successful bid to host the 38th Ryder Cup in 2010, the legacy fund will support over forty projects that will create over two hundred new golf holes across the principality.

New opportunity for advertisers
Industry organ The Leisure Review is offering a unique opportunity to organisations with embarrassing budget under-spends as we approach the end of the financial year. The web-based title, read by over 3,000 sport and leisure professionals every month, is prepared to sell a limited number of front-page positions to supporters and invoice them at exorbitant rates – just to ease that awful tension when the money goes “back to the treasurer”. Managing editor of the only independent monthly in the marketplace, Mick Owen, told us: “We see this as a service to the sector. We tend not to ‘do’ the commercial thing and we won’t be offering anything other than a simple ‘your logo on our front page, your money in our account’ deal but we do feel in these straitened times it’s the least we can do. After all, under-spends this year mean budget cuts next.”

Bat and ball bucking trend
And on the subject of squash, but not this time racketball, organisers Eventis are warning that tickets for their ISS Canary Wharf Classic to be held at the end of March are likely to sell out. And, bucking the economic trend, the event has attracted sponsorship from “leading facilities services company” ISS, which is set to run for three years. This notable success could be down to the charisma of co-promoter, former world-best Peter Nicol, the stunning City venue or simply that eight of the world’s top ten players are in the draw, including Egyptian superstar Amr Shabana and English media darling Jamie Willstrop.

Coaching summit starts selling
Bookings are now being taken for the 4th UK Coaching Summit, titled ‘Delivering the Goals’, that will take place at the Glasgow Hilton Hotel on 28-29 April 2009. The summit has become a key event in the drive to build a world-leading coaching system and provides the opportunity for all those working in the coaching industry to network with leading figures in British sport, hear latest developments in coach and coaching development, meet new and existing colleagues and share best practice with like-minded people.

I’m talented: fly me
British Airways are giving away 180 flights to talented individuals and groups who are aged 16 and above, UK residents and need support to develop their talent in any field, “whether they are the next Mark Ronson on the road to the Miami Music Conference, the future Sam Mendes planning a trip to the Cannes Film Festival, or even a local cricket team looking to train abroad”.


Who’s whom

The Child Protection in Sport Unit in England, based at the NSPCC headquarters in Leicester, has a new director in Ann Tivas. She is replaced in her role as national development officer by Jude Toasland who joins from Fresh Start, the NSPCC’s UK-wide centre of action on child sexual abuse. Richard Lewis, currently running Rugby League and a former tennis development manager, has been appointed the new chairman of Sport England. He will be paid £45,000 for a two-day week. Colin Nicholson has been appointed interim chief executive for the British Wrestling Association “on a free-of-charge basis”. The Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation has appointed Hugh Chambers as its new chair of trustees. Former Olympic gymnast Barbara Slater is the new director of BBC Sport. She replaces Roger Mosey who has been appointed BBC Director of London 2012. Lynn “the Leap” Davies has invited Steve Backley to join the UK Athletics members council as interim vice president.



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