Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
If William Shakespeare was a modern-day sport scribe this might well have been how he would have described what is happening off and on our playing fields today. A real witches' brew. Alternatively he might have borrowed a phrase from another of his tragedies, Hamlet. "There is something rotten in the state of British sport…"
It is the only conclusion he could have come to when examining the sports sections of the nation's newspapers. Every day they are filled with tales of alleged wrongdoing by both players and administrators.
The allegations raised by some on both sides of the games run the whole gamut of misdeeds ranging from racism to cheating, illegal payments to bullying. You name it, someone is sport is alleged to have done it.
The problem is that nobody seems to get to grips with it.
As I have said before, UK Sport seemed to think its role was to run sport as well as fund it, when it wasn’t. The Government has struggled to find an effective sports minister since Sir Hugh Robertson left parliament and became chair of the British Olympic Association. One who isn’t afraid to step into controversy rather than skirt around it.
The present incumbent, one Nigel Huddleston, is rarely seen and never heard. He might well be a decent bloke, but where does he stand in the present mudslinging?
Dear old Denis Howell must be turning in his proverbial.
Just about every major sport seems to be involved in something unseemly or unsavoury and it needs sorting. If Prime Minister Boris Johnson ever regains the plot he seems to have lost and if and when COVID-19 is eventually KO’d perhaps he might turn his attention to clearing up this mess.
At the moment certain administrations do not seems fit for purpose. Again, what I have suggested before, is an ombudsman or ombudswomen. Someone who sports people can turn to, not only for advice but judgement on issues and arguments, rather than going to the High Court or even the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
The current public wrangling is bringing sport into further disrepute. Maybe what is needed is a total shake-up of both UK Sport and Sport England, two bodies which are Government-funded and composed, with one or two exceptions, largely of business people who, smart as they may be, are unknown to those in sport itself.
I can think of several others whose knowledge, experience and ability is currently made strangely redundant. One of the things Prime Minister Johnson did as London Mayor was to shove politics aside and appoint former Labour sports minister Kate Hoey as his sports advisor.
It worked well but now Hoey has time on her hands as a newly-appointed peer. Alongside her in the House of Lords is another excellent sporting Baroness, Tanni Grey-Thompson, the one-time supreme Paralympian.
If Boris rejects the idea of an ombudsman, why not form an elite advisory committee to help oversee sport? This could include not only the ladies above but professor Geoff Thompson, former king of karate, and a proven able administrator with the Youth Charter, eloquent ex-footballer John Barnes, cricket’s Nasser Hussain, rugby’s Sir Clive Woodward, Sir Hugh, cycling’s Sir Chris Hoy - to name just a few of the available personalities who would have the respect of those in sport, not only because of what they have achieved but because they are not afraid to voice their views cogently and intelligently.
At the moment sport seems to be stricken with strife. Whether it is because of the disruption caused by the current coronavirus crisis, who knows?
Whether alleged role-model footballers blatantly disregard the coronavirus restrictions or a dodgy doctor admits destroying evidence, which might have led to revelations of doping in British cycling, sport has become scarred by scandal.
And if we hear and read of what is alleged to have been going on in gymnastics, as revealed by Olympic medallist Amy Tinkler and others, it is a real horror story. If so, why has it gone undetected? Not only by governing body British Gymnastics but supervisory bodies UK Sport and Sport England.
There is also a fresh allegation that, in fact, UK Sport was aware of concerns around bullying by coaches in British Gymnastics more than a year before they came to light.
According to the Daily Mail, the body has declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.
Ah yes, investigations. Several are said to be underway into various sporting misdeeds by "independent" panels that seem to take ages to come to any conclusion, if they ever do.
There are reports of rifts in rugby union over illegal payments, rows between leading petrol heads in motor racing and now these attempts to restructure the Premier League in football, which seem to be orchestrated by half a dozen elite clubs to their own advantage.
The Government describes it as "back room dealing". One headline says "Premier League at war". Another declares of the so-called power grab - "it’s dirty, it stinks and it kills dreams. This cannot happen."
There will be those who say defensively that this is Much Ado About Nothing, but if the bard was writing for the popular prints today, no doubt he might also have described it as A Comedy of Errors. Certainly not As You Like It.
Whether it turns out to be All’s Well That Ends Well remains to be seen. But breath should not be held.