Saturday, 13 February 2010

North West Triangle Economy

Motorcycle Real Road Racing Blog by Barbiegirl Northern Ireland

Saturday being what it is, the day following Friday night, the day of hangovers, the day that becomes Saturday night - here's a post from the filing cabinet.

Is it my imagination or do we have a new breed of motorcycle road racing fan emerging from the throngs - those who don't appear to care one way or the other about our staple diet of national real road racing, nothing seems to worry them, except that the North West 200 proceeds unhindered, maybe the Ulster Grand Prix as well.

From conversations I've had, articles I've read, the general consensus of opinion amongst these fans seem relatively simple - the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure will never impose restrictions on either event, purely on economic grounds, and apparently for another good reason - allegedly according to some, the North West 200 is a DUP event, as in the Democratic Unionist Party. Therefore it presumably follows, that since we 'currently' have a DUP Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, this is one event he wouldn't dare meddle with.

According to many, the revenue generated by the huge number of fans attending the NW200 in particular, pumps much needed countless thousands of pounds, and euros, into the local economy.

Have I been attending a different North West 200 these past years? Should I borrow a pair of rose tinted glasses, better yet, a pair of alcohol fuelled stupor tinted glasses. What do these fans actually see when they attend either of these real road racing events?

I've been attending all my life, though to be honest, for the best part of my informative years, my memories our mainly of noise, lots of people, drunks, and smelly motorbikes. Nonetheless, even I know the glory years of the NW200, and the UGP have passed into history, along with the fans, or as many of them were - day trippers on a family outing with a difference, families with disposable income to spend, money they spent in the local shops of the NW200 Triangle.

Leaked figures show what many had surmised, the number of people attending last years NW200 event (2009) - was abysmal in the extreme. The volume of traffic was equal to an average winter weekend, and the people on the ground, just as bad. True, the weather played its part, but year on year, the figures have been dropping, and alarmingly so - therefore so has the financial gains of the local economy.

The UGP doesn't enter into the equation, there are no shops, nought for families - apart from the car parking entertainment, as in watching all those poor sods fruitlessly trying to extract their cars from the swamp masquerading as an official car park.

Putting to one side the fact we're in the middle of a rather prolonged recession, where exactly is the now substantially reduced pot of cash spent within the aforementioned NW200 Triangle?

Mobile ice cream traders, mobile fish and chip traders, burger van guys, and the rest, all mainly from all areas of the province, but how many hail from around the actual triangle?

Hardly the traders in the paddock either, last time I had a browse around, most appeared to be from outside of our wee country.

Paddock entrance fees, spectator enclosure fees, revenue from programmes, advertising revenue, traders pitch fees, official car parking fees, plus the money from the camping, caravan and motor homes brigade, and so much more, and most or all of this generated cash allegedly goes directly to the promoting club - the Coleraine and District Motor Club Limited, yet another Limited Company - a business, which incidentally also receives funds from the local taxes pot, along with various sponsorship deals, etc, etc.

And now that we've had the briefest of looks at how income is allegedly generated by the NW200 promoting club, a Limited Company, let's take the next step and follow the trail of money as it then finds its way into the local economy.

Despite the sharp drop in attending fans along with their disposable income, year on year, the cost of staging such an event is forever increasing. Consider therefore, two areas of high expenditure - appearance fees, expenses, call it what you like, the more influential of the UK mainland teams allegedly demand and receive these participation payments. Others who can least afford to, have to dig deep and pay their own way, along with an entrance fee, which in all probability, helps to offset the expenses paid out to the Gods of our sport, and for once, I'm not referring to MCUI-UC officials. And since the majority of these riders and teams stay at the Paddock Hilton, in luxury mobile home suites, the rest in Paddock Camptown, how does any of the foregoing assist the local North West economy.

And then we have the alleged salaries, payments, and expenses to the officials - sorry - perhaps that should be Officials and Directors - who seem to descend upon the North West Triangle each weekend of the North West 200 like a plague of locusts.

Anyone care to take a punt, put a total figure on the foregoing alleged salaries, payments, and expenses? I wonder how many of those Officials live within the Coleraine, Portrush, Portstewart Triangle - what percentage of those alleged salaries, payments, expenses finds it's way into the economy of the local area.

On the plus side, more than likely though, the accommodation sector benefits from the NW200, all those officials, Motorcycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre) Limited officials allegedly making full use of the alleged ludicrously generous perks associated with their roles of volunteer amateur officialdom.

As is normal practice, the leg work of the Government enquiry into our sport of motorcycle road racing, will be carried out by Civil Servants, not the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, and don't we all know the mindset of the average civil servant.

This is not a time for complacency, and this is most definitely not the time for burying your head in the sand. Very soon - within weeks - Senior Coroner John Leckey is to hold the Inquest into the death of Martin Finnegan, before the first road race of the season - if any more skeletons emerge from the cupboard, we won't have a sport.

This is the time when every true caring fan of our sport must stand up and be counted - and join the campaign to cleanse our sport of those who would destroy it.

The sport of motorcycle road racing - real road racing - real motorcycle road racing - call it what you will, but take heed - our sport is in crisis, on the verge of becoming extint, perhaps not this year, but will there be a next year? If for instance instead of a ban, a Health and Safety overseer is appointed, will any of our circuits be deemed safe? And insurance - without it, our sport is finished, permantly.

Save Our Sport From Evil

©2010 Motorcycle RealRoadRacing Blog by Barbiegirl Northern Ireland

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