11 Healing old wounds

Attending the Harrogate show a few weeks ago, I was encouraged by the news that our two membership associations were finally holding talks on a possible merger. If they manage to pull it off then I believe we have an exciting and solid future ahead of us.

More recently I read Geoff Webb's reply in the IOG magazine to Richard Norton's (HG at Bolton Wanderers FC) open letter.

In his response he states, 'It is also common knowledge that those that represent Pitchcare do not appear to be outwardly receptive to the IOG'.

Geoff's statement is factually correct, but it is a situation that is not of Pitchcare's making. Let me recap on the dealings we have had with the IOG since we began.

Pitchcare first met with the IOG at Milton Keynes before our launch, and showed Mr Pat Gossett and Mr Alex Miller what we were intending to set up. We invited the IOG to be involved. We felt that there was apathy in the industry, and the slow movement of the organisation could be transformed rapidly by using the internet. The IOG asked us for a proposal, and we offered 10% of the business in return for a cash injection of £100,000 to help us get going. We were informed subsequently that the IOG Board had decided not to enter into any agreement with Pitchcare.

Fair enough, we had no aspirations or high expectations that, in our infancy, anyone would commit to an innovative project such as this. However, we continued down our own avenue, building an ever increasing membership and providing a service that benefited Groundsmen and Greenkeepers (personally I see little difference between the two in modern times. Groundsmanship has encompassed fine turf to as high a degree as any golf maintenance).

In 2003 we met again with the IOG, when a number of items were discussed and, again at their request, proposals were put forward. These proposals formed an advertising/marketing deal worth £3,000 per month. Shares were no longer available. The proposed deal offered a mini IOG website on the Pitchcare home page, news, calendar dates and e-mail newsletters promoting education courses, events and shows all year round. At their next board meeting the IOG discarded the proposals, lock stock and barrel. They didn't even offer a counter proposal.

People, whose opinions I respected, suggested to me that the best way to move forward was to work within so, in 2004, I attended the AGM of the IOG Shropshire branch. There I was proposed and elected to the branch and regional committees. A week later I received a letter from the branch secretary telling me that my election had been rescinded by Head Office because I wasn't a member of the Shropshire branch, but Staffordshire instead, and the rules didn't allow a non-branch member to be elected! As far as I am aware the Staffordshire branch has never functioned.

At around the same time, I was also removed as a winter sports trainer for the FA/IOG without notice, and removed from judging the Groundsman of the Year Awards.

For good measure the IOG also took Pitchcare to tribunal over a domain name that we owned www.groundsman-magazine.co.uk. A name of two generic words that described our business perfectly.

So, it is our feeling that, at no stage, have the IOG wanted any real involvement in Pitchcare. In fact, within past IOG Board of Directors minutes, Pitchcare.com was noted as a direct threat to the organisation.

I am all for healing old wounds and working together for the future of this industry, as Geoff also stated in his response, but we've been whipped that many times that some of the scars are deep and still weeping.

I have met Geoff on a couple of occasions since his appointment and he has suggested a meeting, to which I've always said 'whenever you're ready'. I am just waiting for the call.

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Contact Kerry Haywood

07973 394037

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