High Risk Isle of Man TT world series plan is shelved
Plans to launch a TT world series have been shelved - with Economic Development Minister Laurence Skelly MHK admitting it had always been a ‘high risk idea’.
Meanwhile, the search continues for a company to act as a ‘promoter partner’ for the Isle of Man TT and Classic TT, with the aim of making an appointment before the start of the 2016 TT next May.
The announcements have been made today (Friday) following the completion of a tender process undertaken by the Department of Economic Development to find a commercial promoter for the TT, Classic TT and an international TT series.
The idea for a world series was originally announced in 2011 by Geoff Corkish MHK, Department of Economic Development member with responsibility for tourism and motorsport.
Four years later, in November last year, Mr Skelly told the House of Keys that almost £200,000 had been paid to The Sports Consultancy, which was contracted to explore the feasibility of the idea.
And as recently as May, Mr Skelly was quizzed in the Keys by John Houghton MHK, who asked for ‘tangible evidence to show what has actually been done for all this cost’. ‘There does not appear to be anything,’ he said. ‘The whole scheme does not appear to be any further than its embryonic stage.’
In a statement released by the Department of Infrastructure today, Mr Skelly said:
‘[The TT world series] has always been a relative high risk idea – indeed, some people have voiced concerns that the series might fail or might dilute focus on the Isle of Man events, either of which could harm the TT and the island’s economy.
‘My department therefore considered very carefully the bids to see whether we could be confident we could deliver the proposed TT series while managing the risks. If we were a private business, then I think we may have been prepared to take the risks associated in pursuit of the substantial benefits offered in at least one of the bids.
‘However, government must be mindful of the importance of the TT to many other stakeholders including local businesses, so my department has applied a higher threshold of risk than say a private organisation would apply. We have therefore decided that the best way forward is to focus on growing the home events and making them more appealing.
‘In a few years we can then reconsider the TT series idea with a stronger proposition to take the global motorsport market.’
Addressing the issue of finding a promoter for the TT and Classic TT events, Mr Skelly said
‘We must continue to seek new opportunities for growth – it is in that spirit that we entered into the procurement process this year to seek a private promoter with the right skills and resources to help us grow the TT and Classic TT as well as launch a new, ambitious international TT series.
‘My department has learned a great deal over the last year, both through this process and through the excellent growth we have continued to deliver in 2015. We were very fortunate that we received strong bids from several organisations.
‘As a result, I am more convinced than ever that we need a private promoter partner who can bring relevant expertise, commercial acumen and new ideas so that the TT and Classic TT can continue to grow. This is also consistent with our policy to deliver a smaller, simpler government.
The press statement issued by the Department of Infrastructure included the following information with regard to the staging of motorcycle events. It read:
‘The Isle of Man Government spends over £5m annually to host the TT Races and Festival of Motorcycling and recoups a similar sum from the associated sponsorship and tax receipts.
‘As a result, the island’s economy gains an annual boost of over £20m as well as invaluable international publicity. The department believes that a private promoter partner can help to continue to grow visitor numbers, media coverage and sponsorship, helping to deliver further economic growth and Government income.’