It’s time for the Isle of Man TT races to get underway, it's expected to be hard fought, fast and spectacular! What can we expect from this year's season?
2017 TT – Back in Government Hands
Having announced earlier this year that the Isle of Man Government had agreed a deal with Vision 9 to promote the Isle of Man TT races for ten years, starting in 2017, it’s fair to say many were surprised with last month’s news that the government will continue to organise next year’s TT and Classic TT.
All we really know at this stage is that the appointment of a private promoter, Vision 9 in this case, has been delayed but it’s sure to raise doubts as to whether the deal will go through at all particularly as Economic Development Minister Laurence Skelly MHK confirmed that the 10-year contract with Vision 9 has yet to be signed.
The deal was approved by Tynwald, the Isle of Man government, in April earlier this year and whilst it didn’t quite send shockwaves through the racing world, it did create a lot of interest, intrigue and, yes, doubt, as to whether or not Vision 9 were the right people – and able – to take over as the government’s private partner after this year’s Manx Grand Prix, in time for TT2017.
They immediately outlined ambitious plans to invest £2.5m in the event and attract tens of thousands of new visitors despite significant transport and accommodation issues that need addressing. But now it may not take over until after next year’s TT at the earliest. If, indeed, at all.
Delays due to operational issues:
Mr Skelly said the delay was due to operational issues raised by other government agencies involved in the TT. With an event the size and scale of the Isle of Man TT, it’s inevitable that numerous parties have to have a say in the organisation and be happy with all aspects of that organisation. That doesn’t appear to be the case now with Skelly stating that there are ‘on-going negotiations with all the different government agencies responsible for delivering the TT event.’
It now seems that approval was granted before everyone was entirely happy with what was on the table and more negotiations will now undoubtedly have to take place for the contract, which will certainly have its initial content changed, to finally be signed.
Skelly confirmed that the government are content with the decision to select Vision Nine as their preferred bidder but the delays will give critics plenty of ammunition whilst it may also give Vision Nine headaches which they hadn’t anticipated. The main players of the organisation were all present at this year’s TT and were rumored to be staggered by the size of the event they had taken into their portfolio so perhaps this has led to certain government departments to re-think their plans and ideas.
The statement from the government went on to say that they had been working closely with Vision Nine over the past few months to finalise the agreement and terms of the appointment, including issues raised by other government departments concerning certain operational matters. It is these matters that have delayed the new deal with agreements over areas of responsibility needing to be ‘lock-tight’ to avoid any confusion.
Vision Nine confirm commitment to ten-year agreement:
Julian Topham, chief executive officer of Vision Nine, said: “Whilst we are disappointed that the department has not been able to fully conclude the promoter agreement in line with the planned tender timelines, we also fully recognise the complexity of formulating an agreement in relation to an event that spans a number of government departments’ responsibilities. We are committed to working with the government to create an operating structure tailored to the needs of the TT and Classic TT.”
Ambitious plans for the future:
Tynwald supported the proposal to award Vision Nine a 10-year contract for the TT and Classic TT from 2017 following an hour-long debate in April. The London-based company’s ambitious growth targets envisage spectator numbers for the two combined events increase to between a minimum of 76,500 and a maximum of 125,000 by year 10 of its contract (85,000 for the TT alone).
But critics of the appointment of Vision Nine have queried how all these extra fans are going to get here and wondering where they will stay.
Having started watching motorcycle races all over the world form childhood, Phil Wain has been a freelance motorcycle journalist for 15 years and is features writer for a number of publications including BikeSport News and Classic Racer, having also been a regular contributor to MCN and MCN Sport. He is PR officer for a number of teams and riders at both the British Superbike Championship and International road races, including Smiths Triumph, Quattro Plant Kawasaki, John McGuinness, Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor. He is also heavily involved with the Isle of Man TT Races, writing official press releases and race reports as well as providing ITV4 with statistical information.