PERHAPS money is like life - the more you have of it, the quicker it goes. Some people, of course, can make it disappear much more quickly than others.

It was interesting to hear David O'Leary, after welcoming his financially embarrassed former club, Leeds, to Villa Park last Saturday, expressing his continuing bewilderment about where the money went.

Some of it has gone in paying him off, along with Terry Venables and Peter Reid all at the same time, but O'Leary observed: "We had record gates, record sponsorship, cheques from the Champions League and UEFA Cup semi-finals. I'm just amazed at where it's all gone."

Probably not quite as amazed, however, as Mike Tyson, who has apparently managed to blow the £160m he has earned from boxing and is now in dire need of another bout to pay his bills.

He has been a hungry fighter for a while, of course - he once tried to dine on leg of Lewis - but he's now so desperate that a return to either the ring or jail seems inevitable. How relieved Lennox Lewis must be that he has finally seen sense and quit with his leg, his brains, his millions and most of all his dignity intact.

The first signs that he was growing complacent as heavyweight boxing's descent into farce gathered pace came when he lost to Hasim Rahman three years ago. But at least it fired him up to put Rahman in his place in the rematch then to thrash Tyson, something Lewis needed to do to convince the sceptics that he truly was the best of his generation.

He should have quit then, but there's always the temptation of another pay-day and the complacency crept in again as he struggled to beat Vitali Klitschko. There was talk of a rematch, but it was time to go and to bow out as undisputed champion is all the more dignified.

FURTHER proof that behind Lewis the cupboard is bare came with last Saturday's English heavyweight title fight, as opposed to the British and Commonwealth version controversially lost by Danny Williams the previous week. The English title holder is 37-year-old Matt Skelton; his challenger, Julius Francis, was three years older and once made five visits to the canvas in sharing a ring for a round and a half with Tyson.

This time he survived the full ten rounds largely by hanging on to his opponent, who won on points. Amid all the fears about teenage obesity, it is scarcely setting a good example to have a 19st tub of lard like Francis contesting a national title on Sky television. Furthermore, it encourages the absurd notion that Audley Harrison is not so bad after all.

IT HAS taken two of the world's best footballers to bring the new offside rule into disrepute. Following Ruud van Nistelrooy's match-winner against Southampton the previous week, Thierry Henry showed himself equally adept at taking advantage of the change by putting Arsenal back in front against Wolves.

A few seconds before receiving the ball both had been in an offside position, but the new FIFA directive says it doesn't matter if the player is not interfering with play. However, as one old-timer put it: "If he's not interfering with play, what's he doing on the pitch?"

The change is designed to make football more exciting and produce more goals, although the game's billions of fans seem happy enough with it as it is. What they will not be happy with is referees being inconsistent in their interpretation of the new law. It has already angered losing managers Gordon Strachan and Dave Jones, with the latter repeatedly describing it as "rubbish." He's not wrong.

THE cricket season is only two months away, with the county programme starting and finishing early because of the ICC Champions Trophy, which begins at Edgbaston on September 10 with England playing Zimbabwe.

That's if Zimbabwe turn up, which will be in considerable doubt once the ECB end their pussyfooting and announce that England will not be touring the land destroyed by Robert Mugabe the following month. Unfortunately, everyone else seems happy enough to go to Zimbabwe and there is a danger of England becoming isolated in this matter, perhaps so isolated that the Champions Trophy will be taken elsewhere.

There would be no flood of tears over that as, in an already over-crowded calendar, it is an event which exists merely to generate more money. The organisers were obviously confident that public indifference meant they could get away with scheduling no matches north of Birmingham, so the ECB will not allow any threat to the Champions Trophy to deflect them from cancelling the Zimbabwe tour.

They will, however, be concerned about further loss of revenue on top of the shortfall from last year's World Cup resulting from the refusal to play in Harare. The ECB simply can't afford to squander money like Leeds United and Mike Tyson have done.