In a lively yet frustrating AGM, BSJA members discussed the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) contract, supported board members in a controversy over some of their perceived conflicts of interest, and rejected audited financial statements for the year ending December 2003 on a technicality.
Throughout the meeting, held at Stoneleigh recently, comments from the floor were supplemented by a barrage of petty personal attacks that could more appropriately have been confined to the boardroom.
Feelings ran high over the HOYS contract with Grandstand Media, with BSJA member Julian Trim questioning the further 25-year contract extension (news, 20 May). It was an argument in retrospect since a full board meeting had carried this by a 12-1 majority last year, due to Grandstand’s ability to reinvest in the show, secure its future, raise its profile and encourage TV exposure.
Former BSJA chairman Michael Bates spoke eloquently: “Grandstand Media took on this tired, money-losing show in 1997 and risked moving it to the NEC. I applaud the extension and we ought to support it.”
Addington Equestrian Centre’s Tim Price echoed this, saying: “Without HOYS, we lose a majority of national shows who run its qualifiers. We need HOYS, so let’s stop squabbling and work together for show jumping and more sponsorship.”
Board member John Holmes added: “The decision has already been made. Grandstand Media is doing a good job and needs our support.”
Before the AGM, all BSJA members were fully briefed by both Grandstand and the BSJA itself. Mark Wein, director of Grandstand, wrote to every member on 21 May.
“Not only are Mr Trim’s claims unsubstantiated but also full of inaccuracies,” wrote Wein, who, “for the sake of clarity” explained the financial history of the show and the way in which the deal was struck.
The BSJA, meanwhile, posted “HOYS Contract 2004 — your questions answered” on its website.
Board member conduct and potential conflicts of interest, an issue the BSJA has tackled recently, were also discussed.
Members voted on the £50,000 loan to Broome & Company for its all-weather surface at Wales and the West (granted more than a year ago, with £125,000 from Sport Wales); the allocation of qualifiers to Wales and the West and the merchandise agreement with John Whitaker International for British team jackets. All three earned overwhelming majorities in support.
The technicality over the accounts relates to a new computer and accounting system introduced last year, which made comparing 2003 and 2002 figures difficult. Although many abstained, 65 rejected the accounts against 42 willing to accept them.
However, as explained by board member Peter Rust and auditor Gary Twigger, it was the reclassification of codes in the new Sage system — expected to give more accurate figures in future — that raised the questions. More detailed information on both old and new systems will now be prepared for an EGM later in the year.
“In hindsight, a note attached to the accounts supplying further information would have been helpful,” admitted Peter Rust.