Maybe next time …
What do Monty Python star Michael Palin, a municipal cemetery, the rock band Def Leppard and a long-running debate in the press room at Sibos have in common?
The answer is Sheffield, Palin’s home town, which has for some years now been an also-ran in the choice of the next venue for Swift’s annual travelling circus.
The choice of host city is generally known three years out, so at the beginning of this year’s event in Dubai, it was lined up for Boston next year and Singapore in 2015.
The 2016 location – due to be back in Europe as part of the standard regional rotation – was only known to a few, so speculation ran through the week.
There was strong feeling in the press room that Sheffield, a long-standing candidate, might this year at last be chosen, so the news that Geneva had got the gig was greeted with disappointment. (It is faintly possible that there may have been money riding on the decision, of course.)
How Sheffield came to be in the field at all is lost in the mists of time, but many veterans point to the fact that the town has a strong football connection, with two rival teams, and Swift’s erstwhile Sibos supremo Panos Tzivanidis left Swift to join UEFA, the governing body for European football.
The rumours also started at about the time London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics, and since large scale conferences tend to follow Olympic-led regeneration, that added another layer of plausibility – Sibos has previously been held in Atlanta and Sydney, taking advantage of their upgraded facilities.
While the London-based Brit members of the Sibos press corps tend to be a bit sniffy about a Northern industrial town, and our own editor is holding out for Glasgow once it’s been rebuilt for next year’s Commonwealth Games, others began to browse the web and saw that Sheffield actually has a lot going for it as a conference venue – at least as much as Geneva, which comes top of the polls for Least Popular Sibos Venue.
The Sheffield authorities may have to wait for 2019 or 2022 for their next chance, but we’d like to be the first to suggest that one of the city’s attractions, the Sheffield Municipal Cemetery, would be an ideal venue for some of the sessions …