Monday 1 January
The government begins the year by revealing plans to make the driving test more difficult while the England cricket team continue to make cricket more difficult in Australia.

Tuesday 2 January
Good news for the leisure industry as the working year begins with a national skive with many workers taking another day off. Although the seven million Britons now have gym membership, new year fitness resolutions rarely survive into February, according to ‘reports’. Naseem Hamed is stripped of his MBE following dangerous driving conviction and subsequent jail sentence. The Ashes squad finger their honours nervously, although Jeffrey Archer for some reason doesn’t. Gerald Ford’s funeral demonstrates how sentiment can often over-ride memory, with obituaries creating a respected political genius from the raw material of Richard Nixon’s bumbling defence against impeachment. The same process should see the 2012 Olympics revered as “the best ever” by around 2047.

Wednesday 3 January
With London now boasting the most expensive public transport in the world, the Tourism Alliance warns against “woeful” government approach to 2012 tourism development. The early sporting pace for 2007 is set by Andy Bolton from Leeds who becomes the first person to lift over 1000 pounds and Dave Cornthwaite from Swansea who completes a journey across Australia by skateboard. The FriendShip, the four-year project to sail a ship round the world crewed and inspired by young people, becomes the latest part of the London 2012 proposal to be ‘reviewed’. Ken Livingstone suggests a virtual vessel online may do the trick even as Michael Perham, aged fourteen, steps ashore to becomes  the youngest person to sail the Atlantic single-handedly

Thursday 4 January
With the Ashes safely regained, Richard Branson seems reluctant to fund the urn’s return trip and suggests it should stay in Australia. He is just about to suggest that it should be on display in the pavilion of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the oldest test ground in the world, when someone points out that the pavilion was knocked down a several years ago.

Friday 5 January
Top athletes are wasting lottery money, according to Max Jones, former performance director at UK Athletics. He assumed that giving an athlete £20k a year to train would improve performances. He was wrong.

Sunday 7 January
Childwise, described as “youth marketing experts”, claim that one in five pupils aged 5 to 16 only do an hour of games a week, with 12% doing nothing. Many children are not interested in the sports, usually traditional team games, offered by their schools, they suggest.

Monday 8 January
An Italian psychiatrist reports success in treating psychiatric patients with football. Since 1993 patients with schizophrenia and depression have been enrolled into a football team, training twice a week and playing matches with a marked reduction of drug intake and half going back to work. No news yet as to whether the FA could apply the principle to the Premier League. The Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmonds, announces it will reopen in September after £5.1m restoration. As the only operating Regency theatre, it will offer an appropriately Georgian repertoire.

Tuesday 9 January
Fresh from its success in Iraq, the Territorial Army launches a fourteen-week fitness programme for the public. “We are convinced that anyone can get fit if they have the right know-how, and who better to learn from than the TA who are the experts at combining fitness with busy schedules,” says Colonel Watkins.

Wednesday 10 January
Sir Clive Booth, chair of the Big Lottery Fund, which is responsible for distribution of half of lottery funding, warns that “dark forces in Whitehall” are planning to plunder lottery funding intended for small projects to fill the Olympics funding hole. As the House of Lords upholds the Sexual Orientation Regulation, which bans discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services on the basis of sexual orientation, in Northern Ireland, various religious groups see the same dark forces at work.

Sunday 14 January
In advance of the Caravan and Motor Home Show, the Caravanning Club announces that the most popular type of paid-for holiday in Britain is (wait for it) caravanning. Some 17% of all spending on UK holidays in 2005 was attributable to caravanning, the club claims. Becks is unconvinced and is off to LA for a million dollars a week. The Doncaster Belles play their first game at the Keepmoat Stadium, the ground they now share with Doncaster Rovers and rugby league club Doncaster Lakers. A crowd of 1,800, some 1,500 more than their previous average gate, watched them get a nasty beating by Leeds United. Controversy over the creation of so-called super-casinos in the UK continues with publication of a leaked police report that raises concerns regarding the potential impact of a casino in the Dome.

Monday 15 January
While leisure professionals are pondering what an obesity-busting chewing gum currently under development by ‘scientists’ will mean for their sports development budgets, the final day of the second world darts championship of the year brings the by now familiar warning that darts will be lobbying for a seat at the top table of sport. “We are serious about the sport being in the Olympics,” says Robert Holmes of the British Darts Organisation. LTA officials looking to spice up Wimbledon are given food for thought by the Australian Open in Melbourne where more than a hundred spectators are arrested following brawls between rival Serb and Croat fans. UK Film Council figures show £840 was spent on film-making in the UK last year, a 48% increase on 2005. A total of 134 feature films were being made with inward investment increased by 83% to £570m, all thanks to tax credits that came into effect at the end of 2005.

Tuesday 16 January
The Department for Education announces a £10m package to boost music and singing in schools. The NFL confirms that American football will be coming to London with a regular fixture. Wembley is favourite to earn the £1m per game hosting fee, although Twickenham is mentioned in case of North London cockiness. Concerns that neither venue might be ready for the game in September are laughed off by both venues.

Wednesday 17 January
UK culture minister David Lammy calls metal detectorists “the unsung heroes of the UK’s heritage”, inspired by more than 57,000 finds of historic objects that were voluntarily reported last year. French PM Monsieur Villepin presents Harold Pinter with the Legion d’honneur and Paula Radcliffe returns the trans-Manche favour by  giving birth to a baby daughter in Monaco. Insert your marathon pregnancy joke here.

Thursday 18 January
Staff at Lord’s go looking for the roof of the Tavern stand as high winds whip across the UK. In common with many leisure centre managers, they find this vital part of their building in the street. The government creates a storm of its own by breaking the link between inflation and BBC licence fee, announcing a rise to £151 by 2012. The BBC says it will leave £2bn hole in the corporation’s finances and “tough decisions” regarding future priorities. Chelsea FC unveils a partnership with humanitarian organisation, Right to Play, at the Houses of Parliament, part of the club’s £4.3m investment in community projects, and Thames Water ends its hosepipe ban. Environment minister Ian Pearson, having kept a close eye on the situation, welcomes the news. Racing observers suggest that the sale of the Tote to the racing industry  for £400mcould be the most significant development in the racing and betting industry since the legalisation of off-course shops in the early 1960s.

Friday 19 January
Derek Mapp, in post as chief executive of Sport England since October 2006, tells Simon Mayo on Radio Five Live that one of the key items in his in-tray since his appointment has been the task of working out what Sport England’s role actually is. Mr Mapp is surprised by Mr Mayo’s surprise but both are probably still recovering from hearing Lloyd Conaway, head of Bedfordshire’s county sports partnership and former Sport England stalwart, explaining how he fills his days to Edith Bowman on Radio One a couple of days earlier. As the latest Big Brother implodes amid rancour and recriminations, the decision not to put the negotiations between the three organisations haggling over the creation of a new professional body for the leisure industry now looks like an expensive mistake. Gordon Brown backs England as host of the 2018 World Cup, no doubt mentioning the important impact of the game on a new generation of impressionable youngsters. To prove his point, Chelsea employee Glen Johnson is fined for nicking bathroom fittings from B&Q, presumably to supplement his estimated £30,000 a week wages. Paul Appleby from Kirkby, Notts goes one better in demonstrating sport’s social impact when he is jailed for claiming disability benefit while running regular half marathons. He concedes that joining his local athletics club did represent a “massive change” in his circumstances.

Saturday 20 January
The good people of Devon combine two popular leisure activities – bracing seaside walks and shopping – and set about removing tonnes of goods washed up on the beach from the MSC Napoli stranded just off shore.

Sunday 21 January
With bids for the next lottery licence due in early next month, The Observer reports on the first casualty of the dirty tricks campaign: Camelot’s media relations manager resigns after clandestine e-mails to rival bidders. Meanwhile, Torquay is reported to be planning a statue of fictional hotelier Basil Fawlty.

Tuesday 23 January
The Department of Health announces a £500,000 scheme to give 45,000 pedometers to pupils in 250 schools following a pilot project that produced positive effects upon levels of activity among children that took part. Norman Lamb, the LibDems’ health spokesman, dismisses the scheme as a gimmick and calls for more investment in school sports and playing fields, which have always worked before. Restoration of the Ulster canal is among the projects proposed as part of a multi-million euro investment by the Irish government in the infrastructure of Northern Ireland and Colin Jackson weighs into the 2012 debate. “It’s going to take a miracle for anyone to win a British gold in track and field at the 2012 Games in London,” says the Welsh Wonder. He’s shocked by the abilities of British athletes: “Bad coaching is one of the reasons why the sport is in such trouble in this country.”

Wednesday 24 January
Commons culture, media and sport committee publishes its report on the financial management of the London 2012 project. They are not happy. As well as the £900m increase in costs, taking the projected total bill to £3.3bn, the committee questions whether the legacy of economic benefits and improved participation in sport will be delivered. Meanwhile, police plans to fingerprint and iris-scan construction workers on the Olympic site are apparently being discussed with London 2012 organisers. With the Premier League’s income for the 2007-10 seasons set to total £2.7bn, Blackburn Rovers are considering using some of the Premier League income to reduce ticket prices. A public enquiry into the proposals to build a indoor winter sports centre in a Suffolk quarry opens but the developer’s case for the £350m, 120 hectare project is undermined a few hours later when snow start to fall from the sky free of charge. As London prepares to welcome the Tour de France’s grand depart in July, the drug-fuelled meltdown of professional cycling continues with Johan Museeuw, Belgium’s now-retired boy wonder, admitting that many of his achievements were artificially enhanced.

Thursday 25 January
The Commons public accounts committee calls for the appointment of an obesity tsar to get some urgency into the government’s anti-obesity programme for children. The committee rather touchingly suggests that the three departments involved – health, education and the DCMS – might like to work more closely together. A report in Nature suggests that switching the UK to central European time would save in £485m a year and 170,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by virtue of not having to turn the lights on until tea time.

Friday 26 January
Market analysts Datamonitor reports that children in the UK spend £100 a year on sweets and fizzy drinks. LOCOG is pondering the implications of this news on their sponsorship plans when the latest challenge arrives in the 2012 in-tray: residents expressing concerns about potential danger of testing the Olympic site for radioactive nuclear waste.

Sat 27 January
Serena Williams puts Roger Draper’s task at the LTA into perspective by messing about for a year acting, modelling and dress-designing, and then popping down to Melbourne to win a grand slam title.

Tuesday 30 January
The Casino Advisory Panel announces the chosen venue for the UK’s first super casino. To almost everyone’s surprise, including it seems the secretary of state for culture, it’s Manchester. The Society for Radiological Protection hears research findings that risk of skin cancer to sunbed users has almost tripled in ten years, largely due to high-power suntanning equipment, and the Commons public accounts committee is critical of the NHS PFI project for Paddington Basin in London. The campaign group London Citizens demonstrates briefly at the Legacy Lives conference over demands for a London living wage of £7.05 an hour at the 2012 site and UK Athletics unveils its new CEO. It’s Neils de Vos.

Wednesday 31 January
The National Assets Register values the state’s assets at just under £338bn. Everything over £1m is listed, including the Redgrave and Pinsent rowing centre at £10m and the Diana Memorial Fountain at £4m. Offers for individual items should be directed to Gordon Brown but many may not come with a warranty. A Royal Society study suggests the reintroduction of wolves to Scotland in order to minimise the need for deer culling and the deer stalking industry, which apparently brings £105m to the Scottish rural economy, ponders a new sideline. Tessa Jowell says that a Premier League football club will not take over the 2012 stadium, leaving West Ham still in with a shout.

the world of leisure
January 2007

"Derek Mapp, in post as chief executive of Sport England since October 2006, tells Simon Mayo on Radio Five Live that one of the key items in his in-tray since his appointment has been the task of working out what Sport England’s role actually is."



“We are serious about the sport being in the Olympics,” says Robert Holmes of the British Darts Organisation.



Staff at Lord’s go looking for the roof of the Tavern stand as high winds whip across the UK. In common with many leisure centre managers, they find this vital part of their building in the street.

last month


other news

an independent view for the leisure industry








about us

contact us