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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Cram: Golden League has gone rusty
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By Steve Cram
BBC Sport

The current Golden League set-up seriously needs looking at.

I don't like the way that the unique character of each meet has been changed to fit the Golden League template.

Each meet has become a mirror image of the every other one.

  How the Golden League works

The Bislett Games in Oslo, always a favourite for me, would historically had three or four extra distance races because that's what the Norwegians wanted to see.

But because it's in the Golden League it has to include all the events and has to invite athletes who the promoters might not want to spend their money on.

We need to look at what makes things interesting for the fans
Steve Cram
Bislett is known for the Dream Mile; Zurich for the 100m; Brussels for a cracking 10,000m. Why would you want to change that?

I agree that it's good to have a thread of continuity running through them, and the Grand Prix final works reasonably well in certain seasons.

But in other years - such as this one - trying to get European athletes to peak for the Golden League rather than the European Championships is difficult.

The problem for me is the same as with Formula One Grands Prix.

If they all start to look the same, and unless something drastic happens, then people will start to switch off.

You have to have variety and the meets need their own individual flavour.

I'm not saying we should do away with the Golden League altogether, but we need to look at what makes things interesting for the fans.

The European Cup was perfect because each event mattered, every performance made a difference and it was easy to work out what was going on.

Not every competition can be like that, but it provides more variety in the season.

It worked best when there were four meets. Now there are eight, the focus is lost
Steve Cram
The whole Grand Prix thing works best when promoters can tailor their meet to the needs of the home crowd, rather than having to conform to some outsider's view of what they should do.

You can argue that having the 50kg of gold for going through the entire Golden League unbeaten keeps interest there in races that would otherwise be ignored.

But after a couple of meets you only tend to have four or five athletes in a position to win the jackpot, which makes the rest of the events irrelevant.

Once again I'd draw a comparison with Formula One. Once the championship is nine races old, you usually know who is going to win it.

Every race from then on then loses a lot of its interest. Whether David Coulthard finishes fourth or fifth doesn't make much difference.

It worked best when there were four meets. Now there are eight, the focus is lost.

  Chambers stars in Oslo

Then you have great events, like the British Grand Prix at Crystal Palace, which have some of the best line-ups in the world but which aren't part of the series.

If the current structure is in place to suit the athletes - in terms of money and competition - it is fatally flawed.

Money for the athletes comes from paying spectators and television. And in Oslo, a tremendous meet, had the smallest amount of television coverage for years.

Nice went to the wall this year because of lack of interest - and that should serve as a warning to the rest.

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