Sunday 1 March.
The IAAF, the international governing body for athletics, meets to discuss a new world league of athletics, named the Diamond League with central contracts for athletes and two annual events for the UK. Sydney experiences its third shark attack within a month.

Monday 2 March
The horror: Corpus Christi are stripped of the University Challenge title. Research by Glasgow University suggests that physical activity has a significant impact upon the incidence of asthma among children. It seems that the Diamond League athletics series will be a major part of the legacy of London 2012 facilities.

Tuesday 3 March
Sol Campbell says that teams should have points deducted if their fans subject players to racial abuse. The Sri Lankan cricket team are attacked in Pakistan; five police officers are killed and a number of the Sri Lankan team are injured. Liverpool Hope University unveils its masters degree titled ‘The Beatles, Popular Music and Society’. The Commons home affairs committee hears that Britain is running short of circus performers, ballet dancers and opera singers because of visa regulations. Phil Willis MP calls for a government inquiry into the ownership of Leeds United. Cologne’s city archives building collapses. Setanta and ITV are to try to renegotiate its football broadcast contracts in light of being skint.

Wednesday 4 March
Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd is reported to be feeling the effects of the economic downturn according to its accounts. A poll reveals that 65% of people have lied about reading classic novels. ITV announces it is closing its Yorkshire studios as part of cost-cutting measures. Sir Martin Doughty, head of Natural England, dies at the age of 59.

Thursday 5 March
Michael Jackson is in London to announce a ten-night residency at the 02 in Docklands. The proposed sale in New York of Gandhi’s personal effects, including his sandals and glasses, is called off following outrage in India. The British Medical Journal publishes a paper explaining that physical exercise can extend the lives of men in their fifties by two years. The Neues Museum in Berlin reopens after an eleven-year, €200 million restoration project led by British architect David Chipperfield. The Indian government takes charge of security arrangements for the IPL, putting cricket’s biggest money-spinner in some doubt. BSkyB is lobbying hard to allow the sporting ‘crown jewels’ to be shown on pay-to-view TV and Paula Radcliffe says a broken toe will keep her out of the London marathon.

Friday 6 March
Ghost is to be the next film to get the West End musical treatment with Dave Stewart writing the music. Viewing figures for the FA Cup have fallen by a third since it moved to ITV, according to the latest statistics. England rugby’s attack coach, Brian Smith, apologises to referee Jonathan Kaplan after the former criticises the latter’s performance in the Wales-England Six Nations game. Ross Brawn has given his name to the Formula One team that used to be known as ‘Honda’.

Saturday 7 March
The FA says that 7,000 referees are leaving the game every year as a result of the abuse they suffer at the hands of players and spectators. “It doesn’t take a genius to see we have a major problem,” says an FA spokesman, making one wonder how the FA spotted it. Dubai is ready to host Test cricket after the recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan. British cinema had its best summer since 1969, taking £854 million at the box office between June and August.

Sunday 8 March
The end of the Heartbeat series (it’s a victim of ITV cuts) will be a disaster for the village of Goathland in North Yorkshire, which is where the ‘drama’ is set. The Olivier awards recognise the big hitters on the West End stage, including four awards for Black Watch, a play about soldiers in the Iraq war. Charles Van Commenee is not impressed by his athletes’ failure to meet their medal targets at the European indoor championships.

Monday 9 March
UK Athletics says Dwain Chambers will not be selected for the relay squad for the world championships despite his record-breaking performances so far this season. Ayn Rand’s novel of right-wing libertarian capitalism, Atlas Shrugged, is rising on the sales lists. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust announces that the Cobbe portrait of Shakespeare is the only accurate likeness of the Bard. Jane Fonda, 71, is back on Broadway in the play 33 Variations.

Tuesday 10 March
Culture secretary Andy Burnham warns Britain’s sports administrators that the public mood has changed and that sport should put its commercial activities in perspective; more should be invested in grass-roots sport, he says. Roger Mosey, soon-to-be-ex-head of BBC Sport, urges the government to retain the ‘crown jewels’ of public service sports broadcasting. Novelist Graham Swift donates his archive of manuscripts, notes and correspondence to the British library. The West Indies hang on for a draw in Port of Spain and take the Test series against England one-nil.

Wednesday 11 March
The Barbican reveals plans to offer residencies to five of the world’s leading orchestras as part of a programme of new works. The landlord of the Dragon’s Arms in Islington, London successfully thwarts police insistence that his premises have CCTV. Michael Grade, ITV executive chairman, says he will seek judicial review of the culture secretary’s decision to uphold a ban on product placement within TV programmes. The ECB declares itself an irony-free zone with chairman Giles Clarke’s announcement of the introduction of a ‘fit and proper persons test’ for anyone involved with cricket’s governing body.

Thursday 12 March
Architects from around the world present their plans for the rejuvenation of Grand Paris – the city beyond the peripherique – to President Sarkozy. Heston Blumenthal reopens the Fat Duck after some customer illness. “Mourinho punched me in the face,” says Man Utd fan and plans to create a new base for the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet in Manchester have been hailed at “spellbinding” by the Arts Council. Michael Jackson reckons he will now perform fifty shows at the O2 arena after the first ten sell out. The French national assembly is proposing legislation to tackle the problem of what they term “le binge drinking”. It seems that the Royal Parks by-laws include the prevention of tethering a horse, which could cause problems for the 2012 equestrian events in Greenwich Park. Cheshire police apologise for handcuffing Victor Anichebe while the Everton player was doing a bit of window-shopping in Knutsford. It also seems that Dwain Chambers has resumed contact with Victor Conte, the peerless guru of athletics doping. Nice one.

Friday 13 March
The National Trust declares the restoration of Corfe Castle complete (even though there’s no roof). Alan Davey, chief exec of Arts Council England, warns of a spiral of decline in the arts if government funding collapses during the recession. Bernie Ecclestone says that there will be a British grand prix at Donington in 2010 or none at all, fuelling suspicions that it has been the diminutive Machiavelli’s intention to get rid of Formula One in the UK all along. Kauto Star wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup, to the delight of Arthur Guinness.

Saturday 14 March
Arts Council England research suggests that the number of pupils choosing dance has risen by 83%, a third of which are boys. Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveller’s Wife, has set her new novel in Highgate cemetery. Liverpool batter Man Utd at home, prompting the ever-enigmatic Fergie to note that United were actually the better team

Sunday 15 March
Martin Johnson shows that a lack of qualifications and experience are no bar to coaching at the highest level when England win a rugby match. Files from the director of public prosecutions’ office dated 1971 illustrate the large amount of time and effort expended on deciding whether Derek and Clive Live, a recording of Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore’s foul-mouthed alter-egos, was fit for public consumption. The BBC decides not to broadcast a radio version of Caryl Churchill’s play Seven Jewish Children on the grounds of its commitment to impartiality. World swimming governing body Fina meets to solve the problem of the ‘super suits’ that have enabled records to tumble, bravely concluding that suits should not go beyond the shoulder or the ankle; and you can only wear one at a time.

Monday 16 March
The Champagne Bureau reports that sales in the UK are holding up nicely despite falls in other regions. The British Library admits that it has mislaid nine thousand books from its collection. The International Prize for Arab Fiction is awarded to Egyptian Youssef Ziedan’s novel, Aazeel. In Baghdad a football spectator is arrested after preventing a clear goal-scoring opportunity by shooting the striker dead from the terraces. Concerns in Olympic circles as all works seems to have halted in Sochi, the Russian city preparing to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. Rebecca Adlington breaks the 400m freestyle world record in Sheffield and still loses to training partner Jo Jackson. Meanwhile on the bike Mark Cavendish wins a stage in the Tirreno-Adriatico and says he will after all be riding in the track world championships in Poland later this month.

Tuesday 17 March
The Victoria and Albert Museum opens its theatre and performance galleries with one of Mick Jagger’s 1972 jumpsuits centre stage. England’s women’s cricket team qualify for the world cup final in Australia. The Audit Commission says that lessons learned from the former coalfields should be applied to the government’s efforts to tackle the current recession. Natural England has identified six areas in England where beavers could be reintroduced to the wild. New rules for Formula One in a desperate attempt to persuade the viewing public to keep viewing. Swedish swimmer Therese Alshammer falls foul of the new ‘two suits and you’re out’ ruling and is disqualified in Sydney.

Wednesday 18 March
The biggest ever display of Andy Warhol’s work opens in Paris and Walking with Dinosaurs opens at the O2 in London. The temporary arena that will house the basketball competitions at the 2012 Olympics receive planning permission. Meanwhile, Mark Lewis-Francis and Simeon Williamson have signed up to race Usain Bolt in the street as part of the Great City Games in Manchester in May. The Professional Footballer’s Association confirms that its former deputy chief executive, Mick McGuire, has been sacked for bullying.

Thursday 19 March
Following Broadway, the 52 theatres in London’s West End all dim their lights in memory of Natasha Richardson who died on Wednesday after a skiing accident. Eden launches an environmentally friendly surfboard and the first arts projects as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad are unveiled. BBC director general, Mark Thompson, says that the corporation will have to make savings worth £400 million over the next three years. The Manchester International Festival announces the line up for 2009.

Friday 20 March
On the eve of his retirement as poet laureate Andrew Motion admits that it is the hardest job he has ever done. Culture secretary Andy Burnham chastises the media for failing to give appropriate coverage to the achievements of Britain’s sportswomen. Speaking of which, Hannah Miley breaks her second European record of the week at the British swimming championships in Sheffield. Kim Jong-il, reclusive leader of North Korea, chooses a poolside photo op for his reappearance but he declines to take to the water.

Saturday 21 March
Ireland win their first Six Nations grand slam in sixty years. Whoever it is that is actually in charge of Formula One decides that actually Bernie’s ‘winner takes all as long as it’s not Hamilton’ scoring system will not, after all, be introduced this season; it’s a rubbish idea so they’ll do it next year. Mark Cavendish wins the first classic of his career, taking the Milan-San Remo by the impressive distance of a couple of centimetres having ridden nearly 300km to get there. England wins the women’s cricket world cup in Sydney.

Sunday 22 March
Surrey mourns as Man Utd lose another game. The Indian Premier League will not be staged in India owing to security concerns; South Africa or England could be the new home for the competition. Egypt is to ask US authorities for the return of an ancient wooden coffin smuggled out of Egypt a century ago. Jade Goody, a cultural icon of our age, dies after a long and public illness.

Monday 23 March
CABE and Natural England are launching a new report urging investment in cities with more parks and open spaces. Meanwhile, climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, suggests that opposing wind farms should become socially unacceptable. The British Museum rediscovers some medieval relics when it opens a twelfth-century portable altar for the first time in over a century. Charles Simonyi, one of Microsoft’s founders, is to pay $35 million for trip into space with the Russian cosmonauts; his first trip cost him only $25 million.

Tuesday 24 March
Charlotte Edwards leads England’s world cup-winning cricketers to Lord’s to present the trophy. In Ireland the Garda are investigating the mysterious case of the unknown artist smuggling semi-nude paintings of the taoiseach, Brian Cowen, into Dublin art galleries. Iran’s most bitter footballing rivalry could be exported to the United States if plans by the Persepolis and Esteghalas Tehran clubs to tour the States at the same time come to fruition. Stand down the weatherman: the Indian Premier League is going to South Africa after all. Uefa says that it shares FIFA’s attitude to the World Anti-doping Agency’s policies regarding disclosure of athletes’ locations, thus adding to fuel to a potentially fiery debate.

Wednesday 25 March
You have been warned: Spandau Ballet announce they are putting the band back together. The Edinburgh Festival launches its 2009 programme, revealing Scotland’s contribution to modern philosophical and scientific thought as its theme. Sports retailer JJB undertakes emergency restructuring in an effort to stay in business and sells its chain of health clubs. Rileys, the snooker club chain, has failed in its own efforts to stave off the recession and announces that it has gone into administration. The world track cycling championships kicks off with prime-time coverage on the BBC but no gold for GB Cycling on the opening day. Lewis Hamilton admits that he would have to listen offers from other teams despite his commitment to Maclaren.

Thursday 26 March
David Hockney returns to a copse of sycamores and beeches near his home ready to paint the next in the series of works depicting the trees in the different seasons, only to find that they have been cut down. The Science Museum opens a new £2 million exhibition, Wallace and Gromit Present a World of Cracking Ideas. The US Congress votes to set aside more than two million acres of land in nine states as protected wilderness.

Friday 27 March
Parliament is preparing the presentation of the Holocaust (Stolen Art) Restitution bill, which would allow British museums to return works looted by the Nazis to the original owners. Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, accuses Sepp Blatter of “xenophobic rhetoric”, referring to the FIFA president’s plans for limits on overseas players. It seems that Sir Clive Woodward has had his plans to be the supercoach for the GB 2012 team has been kicked into touch; he’ll now work with the sports that have had their funding cut.

Saturday 28 March
The world’s greatest cultural landmarks turn off their lights at 8.30pm local time as part of a global message about climate change. UEFA says that the size of the Premier League’s top four clubs (Liverpool have 62 players in their squad) is “ridiculous”.

Sunday 29 March
Damien Hirst’s mentor, Michael Craig-Martin, reckons the British Council has betrayed young British artistic talent by cutting foreign shows. Six hundred passengers on the P&O cruise ship Aurora threaten a mutiny if their round-the-world cruise doesn’t start visiting some ports; they have currently made it onto dry land twice in 22 days. Jenson Button, the 27-year-old forgotten man of Formula One, wins the Australian grand prix. The Italian region of Liguria is to ban boats longer than five metres anchoring in 26 coves along its coast in order to protect the marine environment; owners of massive private yachts are not thought to be pleased. Palestinian authorities disband a youth orchestra and they played for Holocaust survivors in Israel. French pole-vaulter Romain Mesnil attempts to attract sponsors by running through the streets of Paris naked. Everton’s women’s team beats Arsenal, who had been enjoying an unbeaten run since October 2003; three of Arsenal’s best players are among British women who have signed contracts to play in the Women’s Professional Soccer league in the States. GB Cycling finishes the world track cycling championships with two golds but nine medals in total.

Monday 30 March
Dominic West, British star of US hit drama The Wire, says that British TV is far too short on “high-end drama”. Plans for a Titanic museum in Southampton are boosted by announcement of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for development of the £28m project. Hull KR full-back Ben Cockayne is warned that he may be facing a prison sentence after pleading guilty to a charge of assault; he’s the third Super League player in a week to be so warned. Dave Brailsford says that the thing about a peak is that one tends to find a decline comes after it and that GB Cycling is still well on course for 2012 success.

Tuesday 31 March
An Ofsted study shows a 34% increase in girls taking GCSE physical education and a 16% increase for boys between 2004 and 2007; new sports and activities are thought to be behind the rise. The government confirms that the South Downs is to become a national park, an announcement that comes some sixty years after the initial recommendation and ten years after the government said it would sort it out. After years of will-he-won’t-he Alan Shearer is in the Newcastle hot seat.




the world of leisure
March 2009

Thursday 5 March:
BSkyB is lobbying hard to allow the sporting ‘crown jewels’ to be shown on pay-to-view TV and Paula Radcliffe says a broken toe will keep her out of the London marathon.




Saturday 7 March:
The FA says that 7,000 referees are leaving the game every year as a result of the abuse they suffer at the hands of players and spectators. “It doesn’t take a genius to see we have a major problem,” says an FA spokesman, making one wonder how the FA spotted it.





Wednesday 11 March:
The ECB declares itself an irony-free zone with chairman Giles Clarke’s announcement of the introduction of a ‘fit and proper persons test’ for anyone involved with cricket’s governing body.

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