HEAVEN knows what the new Europe-wide transfer system will look like when the football and employment authorities finally get their planned changes through the courts and into practice.

But what is abundantly clear is that as things stand at the top level of British football, a contract isn't worth the paper it's written on.

Patrick Vieira is under contract with Arsenal for a further three years and the Gunners had been adamant that he wouldn't be sold.

But if the French international kicks off the new Premiership campaign on August 18 with Arsene Wenger's side it will be the biggest shock since Burnley's former assistant manager was named as the new boss of West Ham.

The 25-year-old this week launched "a blistering attack on Arsenal" in Britain's biggest selling daily paper which guarantees that, contract or not, he has ensured his position at the club is untenable and he will have to be sold.

Vieira, a target for Juventus and possibly Manchester United, insists that winning trophies and not money is his motivation for seeking a move.

He claims that Arsenal aren't geared up to compete in the Premiership, never mind the Champions League.

But whatever his reasons for wanting to end five impressive footballing years in North London, it says something about the sad state of our game if even Arsenal can't hold onto their best players.

The 'big six', which once even included Arsenal's London neighbours Spurs, is rapidly becoming the 'enormous four', which looks rather cosy for Manchester United, Liverpool, Leeds and Chelsea with four Champions League places up for grabs next season.

IF Australia's romp to victory in the NatWest Series didn't send enough shivers down the spine of every Englishman in the run-up to the Ashes, then those of a nervous disposition will have done well to have avoided the county scores last week.

Despite enjoying victory in both the Cric-Info County Championship and National League, Lancashire couldn't prevent Essex batsman Stuart Law scoring three centuries, two of them unbeaten, in as many days.

The Australian import has now scored 29 championship centuries for his adopted county and, possibly alongside fellow Aussie Darren Lehman, is in my view the best batsman on the county circuit.

Yet he has only one Test cap to his name and despite making 49 in that one-off appearance can't get near the Australian Test squad again.

Without wishing to be overly negative, the fact remains that the Aussies have a shadow squad playing in the county championship that would provide serious competition for places in England's top order.

And in one-day cricket the likes of Law and Lehman would walk into our side without breaking their stride.

SO Lennox Lewis is reportedly close to a re-match with Hasim Rahman for the world titles he let slip away in South Africa.

And the British heavyweight is also set for a long-awaited showdown with Mike Tyson.

But fight fans not able to wait that long could do a lot worse than tune into the British and Irish Lions' first Test against Australia this weekend -- if last Saturday's 'warm-up' was anything to go by.

You'd have to watch a lot of bouts to see a more rapid combination than that thrown by New South Wales full-back Duncan McRae, who clobbered Lions' fly-half Ronan O'Gara 11 times in the face to inflict a wound under the eye that required eight stitches.

McRae's appalling attack, which landed him a seven-week ban, was just the latest of a number of violent clashes in the opening weeks of the tour.

And while rugby at the highest level is supposed to be a physical, highly intense affair, the fisticuffs are threatening to overshadow what should be one of the great sporting contests when the Lions and the Wallabies go head-to-head.