Court disaster may cost Shabana maiden English win

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London, Jan 16 (AFP) Squash legend Amr Shabana may havemissed his chance of winning a title in Britain at long lastafter players, spectators, and staff, were evacuated during aspectacular emergency at the famous 125-year-old Queens Club.

The revolutionary new demountable stadium was stillconsidered a risk to life and limb today after gales ripped ahole in the roof the night before the PSA World Series final,threatening the collapse of the giant synthetic structure andemptying the club even of its members.

Shabana, the 31-year-old four times former world championfrom Egypt, now expects to complete his showdown with NickMatthew, the World and Commonwealth champion from England, ata much later date.

It may also have to take place in another country, as thePSA searches for a venue and a time which fits the schedulesof two of the busiest players in the world.

"Although it was an extremely unfortunate thing to happento such a superb and ground-breaking event we are determinedto find a way of completing the tournament," said a PSAspokesperson prior to an emergency de-brief today.

Plans to finish the tournament on a conventional court atQueens were apparently scuppered because Shabana had had aflight to New York pre-booked for the Tournament of Championsat Grand Central terminal in five days time.

It left Matthew waiting to learn where and when he wouldget his chance of winning a third major title in three monthsand of capturing the title of the PSA Tour''s flagship eventfor the first time.

It also left the PSA to decide what action to take overthe destruction of such a high profile, allegedlyweather-proof stadium, which was erected alongside Queen''sworld famous tennis centre court in a rebranded event costingabout a million dollars to stage.

The World Series finals were billed as a tournament whichis "the new face of squash" and as an event which will leadthe sport "into a new era."

Instead it may lead to a period of uncertainty, as thelegal, logistical, economic, and promotional implications ofthe disaster are assessed and addressed.

Later the PSA released a statement stating that the finalwill go ahead but the date and venue would be announced at alater date.

"In consultation with all parties involved, theProfessional Squash Association has made the decision that thePSA World Series Final will go ahead.

"Currently, we are working through the logistics andassessing forthcoming schedules to establish the exact datefor when this will take place.

"The PSA is committed to delivering a fantastic finale towhat has been a world-class event. We look forward toannouncing the date as soon as possible." (AFP) SHN

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