Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg joins Squash Mad SPOTY campaign to get Nick nominated


DEPUTY Primer Minister Nick Clegg has joined the SquashMad campaign to get England’s Nick Matthew a starring role in next months BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards show.

SquashMad launched the drive to get world champion Nick a place in the final ten nominations who are then voted for by the British public. We called for fans to lobby the BBC’s Director of Sport Barbara Slater…and now Clegg, who is Nick’s local MP in Sheffield, has done just that.

Here’s our original story calling squash fans to back our man. If you agree, read on and get petitioning.


Squash lovers are still buzzing following last week’s World Championships in Manchester. Full house, great squash, magnificent final, English champion…and all laid out in front of the BBC cameras.

So squash is flying high, then? Well let’s hope so, anyway.

A non scientific barometer of how sport registers on the British public pops up on our screens every December in the shape of the Sports Personality of the Year awards. That’s SPOTY to you and me.

Traditionally, squash has been a bit-part participant over the years. The odd three second mention amid the razzmatazz of a star-studded sporting occasion.  Some years it doesn’t get mentioned at all, but hey ho…such is life.

Would be nice if this year was different, though. Getting a starring role wouldn’t change the face of the sport, but it would be a great filip to those who play it, organise it, follow it or just watch it from time to time. Especially this year when everyone still feels slightly wounded after the great Olympic stiich up.

So how do we get world champion Nick Matthew on our screens slightly longer than it takes Ramy Ashour to crack out a cross-court nick?

We could start by whispering in the ear of a woman called Barbara Slater (above). Who she? She is the boss of BBC Sport, who host the TV shebang.

Barbara also heads up the selection committee who decide the final dozen or so sportsmen and women who the public get to vote for. Last year her team consisted of

  • Director of BBC Sport – Barbara Slater(Chair)
  • BBC head of TV Sport – Philip Bernie
  • Executive editor of BBC Sports Personality of the Year – Carl Doran
  • From BBC Radio 5 live – Eleanor Oldroyd(presenter, 5 live Sport)
  • Three newspaper sports editors (to be rotated annually) – in 2012, Mike Dunn (sports editor, the Sun), Lee Clayton (head of sport, Daily Mail), Matthew Hancock (sports editor, the Observer)
  • A pan sports broadcaster/journalist – Sue Mott
  • Three former SPOTY nominees (to be appointed annually) – in 2012, Sir Steve Redgrave, Baroness Grey-Thompson and Denise Lewis
  • Baroness Campbell, chair of UK Sport

It’ll be a similar line-up this year.

Now I’m sure Babs and her cohorts are fully up to speed on Saint Nick’s third world title, but just in case she was distracted by events elsewhere, maybe a little nudge would not go amiss. I’m not suggesting we picket BBC HQ at Salford, but maybe a polite letter to Ms Slater might be in order.

Once this year’s list of sports editors is announced, I’ll be pinging them a ‘Don’t forget Nick’ email…you might care to do the same.

I reckon it’s time squash made a little more noise. Nice guys finish second and all that. For the record, here’s Barbara Slater’s address.

Ms Barbara Slater
BBC Director of Sport
3rd Floor, Quay House MediaCityUK
M50 2QH


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