0 Fighting our corner!

DaveSaltman-Aug09.jpgAs I write the last editorial of 2010, there seem so many pressing items to try and include. The state of the economy has, by far and away, been the most prominent, leading to job losses, business failures and general malaise. The hope is that our new government can make cuts in the right places to bring us out of recession, as swiftly as possible, and raise the country back off its knees.

The weather has dominated the year too, with a big freeze at both ends of the year making conditions difficult to maintain regular sport, and this further worsening the finances of those already scrambling to make ends meet.

The late spring left everyone wondering whether the UK had gone truly arctic, and opened the door for all the global warming sceptics to have their say. This was replaced though, almost immediately, with hot weather and drought through May, June and July. And just when we thought that we had cracked a decent summer, the rains returned and ruined August and September. November has, officially, been the coldest on record, and it looks like there are at least another few months of an ominously cold winter in front of us.

The Industry discussion on the way forward has also become a major topic, with trade shows top of the agenda. Very soon, there will be a census to gain overall opinion on what everyone associated with our Industry wants in the future. Everyone will have the opportunity to have their say, whether they are members of the AEA, BIGGA, IOG or Pitchcare. This census is, possibly, the most important survey ever conducted and will help shape all our futures, hopefully for the better and for a united Industry.

The decision has now been made by FIFA to host the next World Cup in Russia. I watched the Panorama programme on TV a couple of days before the voting about the alleged corruption within the FIFA hierarchy. It certainly didn't tell me anything new about the way these people conduct their business.

In our Industry, we have had to fight the unfair ingress of synthetic surfaces, pushed and promoted by the fat cats of football. Indeed, Mr Blatter had to backtrack from his statement, in 2002, that the South Africa World Cup would be played on artificial pitches.

But, why was this organisation hell bent on getting plastic everywhere? Because of the royalties paid to FIFA for the honour of having the carpets approved. Perhaps that is why Russia and Qatar have been awarded the next two tournaments, so that some, or all, of the games can be played on artificial surfaces.

To fight our corner on issues like these, we need a single, unified voice that will lobby on our behalf about the virtues of natural turf for sport. There's a place for artificial surfaces, but our governing bodies of sport don't seem to always recognise that a good grass surface will always be preferable to a good synthetic surface.

I do believe that the Swiss authorities should save their embarrassment and investigate FIFA, and the allegations made against them, properly. How, in this day and age, can such open allegations be ignored by a government?

So, what does 2011 hold in store for us? Hopefully, a gradual swing back to prosperity and the country back on its feet and feeling great again. Retaining the Ashes on Australian soil has been the prefect end to 2010 and a great start to 2011- I might just put a little message on the Pitchcare Oceania website wishing our antipodean cousins a happy new year!

Happy New Year and my very best wishes to you all.

Dave Saltman

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