Isle of Man TT: The real cost of cancellation goes far beyond losing the ultimate adrenaline of the race


The prospect of motorsport returning to our screens seems far away right now as Britain prepares for what should be the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Formula 1 was abandoned at the earliest in June, MotoGP is moving in the same direction and the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Indianapolis 500, two of the busiest sporting events in the world, were postponed until later this year.

Frankly, the Petrolheads are facing a long period of 2020, and that is before the financial repercussions are felt, which could mean that the motorsport landscape that we left in 2019 comes back dramatically changed with each return.

In this case, it is unlikely that Formula 1 will be displayed on our screens, but rather one of the national championships such as the British Touring Car Championship or the British Superbikes Championship, given the ease of organizing an event in a country consistent rather than visiting the globe. Unfortunately, the Isle of Man TT will not be part of it.

The TT is widely regarded as no other race, in which motorcyclists set off at 10-second intervals to cover the 37.73-mile road course on the public streets of the Isle of Man. Two years ago, Peter Hickman ran it in at an average speed of 135.452 mph. This is not one for the shy.

But the reputation of this two-week event like no other goes much further than racing. This year’s TT cancellation, announced last month in response to the escalating coronavirus crisis, will affect more than 100,000 people, from cyclists to fans, teams to local businesses and beyond.

“It was a very difficult decision to cancel the Isle of Man TT races, but it was absolutely the right one in the current environment,” said Laurence Skelly MHK, Minister of Business for the Isle of Man, responsible for ensuring the economic development of the island. “A large number of individuals and businesses support the event in multiple ways, ensuring visitors, volunteers and cyclists have a very positive experience year after year.”

For an event so steeped in the history of motorsport since its first edition in 1907, it is remarkable that interest in TT continues to grow. Last year, 46,000 fans visited the Isle of Man, a 4% increase from 2018 according to the government’s Economic Affairs Division, which resulted in a profit of £ 4.8 million sterling. 4.8 million pounds will be drawn from the island’s projected financial income this year.

However, the impact of this spills over much further, through the streets of Douglas and Ramsey and into every pub, store and hotel that reap the rewards of the TT festival through tourism.

“We know the impact is much broader than government revenue,” added Skelly. “We have developed a set of support measures for businesses and individuals affected by the cancellation and are working closely with all of the businesses and individuals affected to make it happen as quickly as possible.

There is also a growing concern among teams and runners. For those who put their lives on the line by saddling the 200mph missiles that hit the road, their main source of income is seed money and prize money. No race? No pay slip.

Twenty-three-time winner, John McGuinness has already expressed the financial difficulties he faces after losing a large sum of money in the recent Norton scandal, which saw the British company placed under administration after having owed 28 million pounds sterling to creditors. Other riders risk losing their jobs, both in the saddle and outside the sport after being put on leave, while there is no guarantee that the teams that have made TT one of the highlights of the calendar will come again.

The organizers have not completely abandoned the TT, with the hope that the Classic event planned for the last week of August could be used to organize a reduced TT since most of the best riders are on the island for participate in the event. Much will depend on how the main British championships are rescheduled, but government support that the TT receives means that roads can be closed for racing with relatively short notice if the opportunity arises.

John McGuinness fought for reliability with his Norton

The Classic TT, however, only attracts a fraction of the TT itself and will not make up for the financial deficit that the islanders have prepared for this summer.

If that is not possible – and it takes a good deal of optimism to hope that the race will resume by August – the TT will be suspended until next year, although the event itself survives. The rich history of TT has only been interrupted three times in the past, two for the outbreak of the First World War and the third 19 years ago, when foot and mouth disease meant that more than 40,000 travelers traveling on the island. from the British and Irish continents had not appealed to the government.

What drew each time, however, was to get the show back on the road as soon as it was “safe” – using “safe” never really feels good when discussing TT, but it applies in terms of getting people to the event itself once the threat from Covid-19 has subsided. Perhaps the truly unique appeal of the TT is that it is for purists by purists, and regardless of finances, dates and suspensions, the TT will return.


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