The Country Land and Business Association has announced it is to end its involvement in the annual CLA Game Fair.
In a statement released on Monday (21 September), the CLA said the decision includes the cancellation of next year’s event, which had been due to be held at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire from 29-31 July.
“It’s a sad day for the CLA,” the association’s spokesman Shane Brennan told Farmers Weekly.
“The Game Fair has been a loss-making event for the past three years and we no longer felt it was fair to ask our members to continue to fund it.
“Therefore, we will end our involvement in the show, including cancelling the event in 2016.”
According to CLA accounts for the year ending 30 November 2014, the Game Fair income was £3.9m, but expenditure was £4.276m – meaning a loss of £376,000.
In 2013 the income was £3.875m and expenditure was £4.103m. In the accounts report, the CLA said the result of the 2014 Game Fair held at Blenheim was “disappointing in financial terms. And as a result we will be reviewing plans for 2015 Game Fair at Harewood with a view to minimise risk”.
Leaders of the CLA, which represents more than 33,000 members in England and Wales, said a crowded summer of events had led to falls in attendance at the Game Fair in recent years.
The future of the show is unclear. But the CLA said it would soon begin a consultation to invite proposals from other organisations to see if the show can continue.
“It is a difficult decision that we deeply regret having to take”
Helen Woolley, CLA
The CLA said the decision to end its involvement in the show was taken by the organisation’s board last week after the event failed to generate enough income in each of the past three years.
CLA director general Helen Woolley said: “The Game Fair is an important and well-loved event with a long tradition.
“It is a difficult decision that we deeply regret having to take.
“We are extremely proud of the Game Fairs that we have put on in recent years and we are grateful to our Game Fair team that have delivered these high quality, professional, events.
“Unfortunately an increasingly crowded summer calendar of outdoor events has contributed to falling attendance.
“This has led to the event failing to generate enough income and has made the event financially unsustainable.”
She added: “Over the past three years the board made the decision to invest in the Game Fair because of our strong desire to turn the event around.
“We have been able to make this investment because of the otherwise robust financial position of the CLA.
“However we can no longer ask CLA members to allow their membership subscriptions to underwrite the losses the event makes.
“We are clear that the Game Fair can no longer be run by the CLA in its current form.
“We will, however, begin a period of consultation in which we will invite proposals from other organisations on how the Game Fair might be able to continue.”
The cancellation of the event also threatens the jobs of 11 staff on the CLA Game Fair team.
A period of consultation will be held to decide their future within the organisation.
The CLA said it would remain committed to providing industry-leading advice and support, running a busy schedule of other national and regional events and being an effective lobbying voice for rural business.
Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “We greatly regret, as does the CLA, that there is unlikely to be a Game Fair in 2016 or for the forseeable future.
“Unfortunately, the show sector as a whole is going through a hard time. There has been a question mark about the economic viability of the Game Fair show.
“We know that agriculture shows from the Royal Show to the East of England Show have gone the same way.
“It is an unfortunate reality that especially retail-based shows are extremely vulnerable to how people are spending their money.
“The Countryside Alliance would be fully supportive of any organisation that would like to take the show on. For something of that scale, we would not even claim to have the experience of hosting something like that.”