Nabs scraps boxing fundraising event in wake of revenue decline

The Nabs boxing night, which has raised millions of pounds for the industry charity over more than three decades, is being scrapped because of its waning popularity.

It is to be replaced by a football-themed event at London's Grosvenor House hotel in February next year, which Nabs aims to turn into the industry's biggest annual event.

The decision to kill off the black-tie night of live boxing and fundraising auctions comes in the wake of steadily declining revenues and growing opposition to the association of a major industry event with a controversial sport.

Kate Harris, the Nabs chief executive, said: "The industry has been saying for some time that it doesn't want boxing any more. So much so that it is actually becoming a barrier that is stopping people giving to Nabs."

The new event will be based on the Nabs Charity Football Night held in October last year at Chelsea FC's Stamford Bridge ground, which raised more than £60,000.

It is intended to halt what is being seen as the terminal decline of the boxing night, traditionally the charity's biggest fundraiser, which boosted funds by £636,000 in 1998 but raised only £437,000 last year.

The boxing night, which began in 1972, has long been a turn-off for women and Nabs executives have grown increasingly concerned about the animosity to it by the new generation of senior managers in agencies and media companies.

Agency bosses have also found clients less willing to be entertained at the event.

Simon Marquis, the chairman of ZenithOptimedia, will head the committee organising its replacement, which will incorporate the boxing night auction and aims to raise about £600,000.

The rethink comes amid relentless pressure on the resources of the charity, which needs to raise at least £1.5 million a year to be able to operate effectively.

John Bartle, the Nabs president, is this week launching an initiative to persuade industry trade bodies, including the IPA, to donate a proportion of the annual fee paid by their members to the charity.