2008 SJA AGM: Chairman’s report

Ahead of tomorrow’s Sports Journalists’ Association Annual General Meeting, BARRY NEWCOMBE, the SJA’s Chairman, delivers his report

There have been many congratulations coming our way recently, which reflects the hard work and care of our officers and members in moving the SJA forward.

On stage, we have continued to use The Brewery in the City of London for our SJA Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards and for the SJA’s British Sports Journalism and Photography Awards dinner.

These showpiece events are attracting bigger audiences and reflect the interest in what we are trying to achieve for our members and guests. The success we have had relies greatly on the work of the awards committee headed by David Welch and with the administrative ability of Sandra Phillips. The team deserves our warm congratulations.

Peter Wilson, chairman of the judging panel for our Sports Journalism Awards and the Editor of an increasingly well-presented quarterly Bulletin, has also worked with enormous enthusiasm and impact in the SJA cause and his efforts to include national newspaper sports editors to judge our Sportswriter of the Year have been rewarded.

We are in our 60th year and the high point of the celebrations will be the Sports Awards lunch on November 26. Previous winners of our awards will all be invited. Last year’s awards dinner saw all the key invited celebrities taking part.

In the year of the Beijing Olympic Games, the SJA has opened a working dialogue with Lord Coe and the London 2012 team and our committee had a useful discussion with them earlier this year. More activities will follow in the countdown to 2012 and we would like to introduce activities to appeal to our wider membership, starting with site visits and other presentations. I will be representing the SJA in Beijing where some 240 British writers and photographers have been accredited.

In Olympic terms, we have staged working lunches so far this year with super yachtsman Ben Ainslie and with some of the members of the British equestrian team. Ben came to Fleet Street and the riders to BT Tower where out newest sponsors BT Vision hosted their first lunch. I would thank Trevor Bond for his enthusiastic organisation of these events as well as running our two Golf Days for members to be held during this year at Surbiton and Muswell Hill clubs.

Our website,, continues to prosper under the direction of secretary Steven Downes whose rapid reaction to anything which needs to be on the site is reflected in the continuing interest – an average of 20,000 hits a day has already been achieved. Other specialist sports writing bodies – such as the Athletics Writers and Equestrian Writers – use the website to publicise their activities as well, and we expect to announce another such partnership shortly.

Our thanks, too, to treasurer Neil Wilson who will remain in the position for one more year. The SJA committee has invited Jon Ryan to continue as a member since his departure as Sports Editor of the Sunday Telegraph and I am delighted to say that he has agreed.

Barry Newcombe
Chairman, SJA – April 2008

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