Friends and industry colleagues.
20 years ago we established the Sport Industry Awards and at the time there were few signs of a collective industry. There was a group of entrepreneurial businesses, agencies, the odd forward-thinking NGB, Sport England and a room of 500 or so people that lived and breathed the world’s greatest past time.
Since then our industry has grown unabated and has shared in unforgettable moments from the Premier League's success to London 2012, to Rugby World Cup Winners and Cricket World Cup Winners. As an industry we have thrived, grown, innovated and become one of this country’s finest service exports.
Around it a sense of restless entrepreneurship has spawned a network of small and medium business that have not only boosted our own industry but have transformed global sport.
As we motored towards another Sport Industry Awards in April – a celebration of our brilliant and talented sector – sport has stopped. More importantly our way of life has changed for good, and for many this is the fight of our business life. Heartbreakingly, lives will be cut short and families will lose loved ones.
I will not be the only person that feels slightly broken.
The sense of community that sport can bring has never been more vital.
We are reshaping our businesses and protecting livelihoods for long term survival while dealing with a level of complexity and uncertainty that for many will be bewildering.
The Sport Industry Awards have become the biggest night in the sport business calendar. We have celebrated, we have been moved, and we have laughed together. We have been as one in ovation of the hard work and achievements of the people that allow our industry to touch so many and to have such an impact.
Sport Industry Group hired the hall, but it’s always been every single one of you that has created such memorable moments.
These things will happen again. Sport will endure.
For us to come out a stronger industry will take some exceptional work and we will have to support each other. It is clear that DCMS will rightly support the NGB community and hopefully the fantastic NGOs in this country. We have received some relief from government in the announcements from the Chancellor. To come through this we will have to think differently, to work in different ways. As businesses we are more likely to survive and thrive together - sharing the burden of this extraordinary piece of history that we are living.
Today Sport Industry Group has launched a Slack group; a place to commune, share issues, solve problems and also at times celebrate. While sport’s role in the world will not diminish, and it will return with a true understanding of its power, in this hiatus we are connecting, learning, adapting and planning for a new reality.
Please do get involved, offer support where you can and importantly feel comfortable asking for a helping hand too.