The single industry show debate rumbles on but, disappointingly, now without any input from the initiators of the latest talks, those industry companies who, through forums such as the Pitchcare Message Board, had made it very clear that two shows per year were not sustainable.
Not all bad news
However, it's not all bad news. The very fact that BIGGA and the IOG are once again sitting around the same table to discuss the issue is a success in itself.
Their merger talks a few years ago fizzled out, to nobody's real surprise. Neither association was prepared to relinquish its own power base and income streams. But, economic reality, and pressure from the aforementioned industry companies, has now forced their hand.
So, how are things likely to pan out?
It is very clear that the IOG has been upping the ante and, with their greater financial resources, they are in a much stronger position than BIGGA.
Saltex to focus more on golf sector
It is no secret that the IOG see greenkeepers and groundstaff in the golf sector as part of their target market for potential new members, and it is only a matter of time before the Saltex show includes a greater golfing emphasis. It is a logical step.
Harrogate will become a Regional Show
Where does that leave BIGGA and Harrogate Week? With a regional show focusing on one sport which, in all reality, is what it has already become. The 2011 show was poor compared to previous years, with fewer exhibitors in an ever decreasing area of hall space.
In many ways it is an inevitable development, the decline has been similarly noticed with Saltex. The industry companies and customers having been voting with their feet and selective attendance for quite some time. Their message, finally, appears to have sunk in.
The UK sports turf industry is highly regarded worldwide, with our Groundsmen and Greenkeepers considered being up with the very top professionals.
Final chance for Associations
The current single show discussions are a great opportunity, and probably the last, to unify our industry and set a positive agenda for the future.
The two associations must seize this opportunity; otherwise many of the industry companies will despair and look for other ways in which to promote themselves and their products.
This time, they cannot afford to fail.