SPORTS AGENDA: Sky handle Steve Smith scare with care… and Leeds primed for second Amazon series

Steve Waugh (left) and Brad Haddin look on after Steve Smith suffered a serious injury

Sky’s handling of the potentially horrific blow to Steve Smith on Saturday at the Lord’s Test was both sensitive and admirable.

Sportsmail columnist David Lloyd, on commentary at the time, immediately grasped the severity of the situation and wisely allowed the pictures to do the talking.

With Smith on the deck having been struck on the neck from a searing Jofra Archer lifter — and with the immediate status of his health unclear — viewers were instead shown pictures of a grim-faced Australian balcony, whose minds may well have turned to the tragic death of Phil Hughes in 2014.

Thankfully, Smith got back to his feet and headed off the field for assessment, although a decision to allow him back out to complete his innings seemed at best questionable.

Steve Waugh (left) and Brad Haddin look on after Steve Smith suffered a serious injury


It was only last week that Great Britain were disqualified from the men’s 4x400m relay at the European Athletics Team Championships after a reserve shot putter — who was not even in Poland — was named in the line-up by mistake.

Now, it seems, there is concern among some British athletes that the UK Athletics department responsible for that cock-up are guilty of another oversight.

Britain’s finest athletes are being sent to Dubai for a training camp before next month’s World Championships in Doha, presumably because of the proximity to Qatar. Trouble is, you can’t fly direct from Dubai to Doha and any journey, which involves at least one stop, takes about five hours.

BT Sport head of live football Stephen Cook is leaving his post with the season less than a month old. The broadcaster confirmed Cook’s departure but declined to divulge the reasons behind it.

It would appear that UEFA is finally dealing with the scourge of the press box — the fan who masquerades as a reporter.

At the Super Cup Final last week, two starstruck ‘media’ with credentials around their necks approached players in the mixed zone for a selfie, to the usual groans from reporters there who were attempting to do their jobs.

The eye-rolls among the assembled hacks quickly turned to stunned glances of admiration, however, as a quick-thinking UEFA official stepped in. Switzerland’s finest was having none of it — giving one imposter a rollicking while unceremoniously booting the other out. Bravo.

Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties to win the Super Cup in Turkey last week

Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties to win the Super Cup in Turkey last week


The behind-the-scenes Amazon documentary charting Leeds United’s 2018-19 season launched last week and the production company behind the programme are hoping for a second series.

Cameras have been spotted in the stands at Elland Road in similar positions to the ones used last season, although it is understood that no decision on a follow-up has been made yet.

The Yorkshire club are top of the Championship after three matches, and Leeds-based production company The City Talking will be hoping the prospect of recording the moment an arduous 16 years outside the Premier League comes to an end will prove too much for Amazon and the club to resist.

The price will have to be right, however.

Spare a thought for the poor soul at the Premier League communications department whose job is now almost exclusively to respond to calls regarding VAR.

The system that was supposed to put an end to controversy continues to create controversy, with a fresh set of questions raised each weekend after the soul has been sapped out of yet another game.

At least the league had the foresight to see it coming and changed the media officer’s role before the season had even started. To make matters worse, the person in question is a Coventry City fan.

VAR was supposed to put an end to controversy but only continues to create controversy

VAR was supposed to put an end to controversy but only continues to create controversy


FIFA have been accused of launching a ‘fishing expedition’ in the wake of the penalties issued against Chelsea and Manchester City for breaking the rules on signing foreign youngsters.

Sports Agenda has heard from a number of English clubs across the top three divisions complaining that they have been asked to provide the details of every minor either signed or registered on trial since 2009 — and have since heard nothing back from the governing body.

At about this time each year the Football Writers’ Association (FWA) sends out its members’ Handbook. Those who join the FWA are asked for contact details which go in a handy directory at the front, with most providing an email address and a mobile number.

That is not the case for new member Gary Lineker, whose addition is part of an attempt to raise the profile of the group. The BBC’s highest paid presenter instead has his Twitter handle listed, which prompted some members to wonder if the England legend was being a little precious.

That, however, does not appear to be the case. Sports Agenda understands the decision was taken by the FWA hierarchy, who wished to protect Lineker’s privacy.

Contributors: Matt Lawton, Sami Mokbel, Amitai Winehouse

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