British sport's boom and bust culture
There were two major events in London's Battersea Park on Wednesday night: the first was the Sport Industry Awards and the second was Sky Sports News presenter Charlotte Jackson's dress.
Enjoyed by hundreds of party-goers and talked about in every news room, marketing office and sports HQ this morning, it was a success. The ceremony went well too.
For the first five years of the awards' lifetime they were relatively parochial affairs but that changed in 2007 when royalty visited in the shape of Posh n' Becks. What had been an event for the ad men, sales staff and other suits that make up the back office, was now somewhere to do deals, somewhere to gossip, somewhere to be seen.
There were moments during Wednesday's jamboree when it felt like the centre of the sports news universe, which is a bold claim for a little island but not a totally ridiculous one when you consider the reach of the Premier League and the magnitude of the coming Olympics. The wine was flowing too.
Among the 1,700 guests furiously networking under the big plastic tent were leading lights from every national governing body, agency and brand.
On one table Nike, another Adidas, whilst the daddies of the Jerry Maguire business, IMG, were guests of honour as recipients of an "outstanding contribution" award.
And for those who enjoy a frisson of tension with their cheese, on the table behind mine was the man who led England's doomed 2018 World Cup bid, only yards from the man who helped Qatar get it in 2022. There was no need to chill the Chablis.
Jackson won the paparazzi prize Photo: Sport Industry Awards
English cricket, buoyed by what happened over the winter in Australia, picked up two gongs, Celtic Manor won the venue prize for providing the backdrop to one of 2010's best sports stories anywhere and BSkyB earned plaudits for shaking up the peloton with its headline-grabbing cycling team.
But behind all the back-slapping and glad-handing was an important message: sport matters. This did not look like an industry in recession and austerity was short on the ground. Be it international prestige, jobs or old-fashioned cash, the UK sports sector is punching above its weight.
Of course, it's not all champagne and cigars, and earlier in the day I had been at a very different event: the launch of two discussion papers meant to shape the debate on how British football can be saved from its worst excesses.
Gathered in that room were fans of clubs that have been to more insolvency proceedings than prize-givings and it was more than a little bit depressing to hear them recount their tales of woe.
The group behind this plea for sanity is Supporters Direct (SD), the body set up in 2000 to promote greater influence for fans in their clubs and hopefully encourage a more sustainable business model for the game.
The subsequent years have seen the "fan-ownership" movement make some progress but there have been backward steps. That is all in the past, though, as there has never been a better time (or a more receptive audience) for the SD message.
Among the 80 or so who came to Westminster's Portcullis House were a dozen MPs united in the belief that something has to change, if not necessarily a firm view of what that something is or how it can be achieved.
For that, many are pinning their hopes on the report coming from the recently-concluded Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry into football governance.
Hundreds of submissions and two months of hearings have gone into an effort that could see the coalition government deliver on its promise to "encourage the reform of football rules to support the co-operative ownership of football clubs by supporters."
It is a subject I want to return to so I will leave that there for now. But I will recount a conversation I had with a member of the CMS select committee about how and why he got involved in an area that has usually been viewed as a political backwater.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport spends peanuts compared to other parts of government, a fact reflected in the lack of cabinet status for the sports minister.
But, as the MP pointed out, while it might not "matter" much in Whitehall terms, it matters an awful lot to the electorate. Aircraft carriers, hospitals and schools are any government's big-ticket items but football and X Factor are what voters talk about most.
It is why events like the Sport Industry Awards will probably continue to grow in size and ambition. The business of sport has become, like pop music, teaching English or making reality TV, something we do well. But it would not hurt every now and then if we admitted we could still do it a lot better.