Thursday 6 September 2018

Rally - Big news week

In an odd way it is somewhat comforting to note that the American government and the British Parliament don't have a monopoly on nitpickers, egotists and buffoons scattered amongst the ranks of those who purport to represent our interests.

It would appear that the Isle of Man government has its own share of those who have little to say but want to be heard. Take the latest stramash surrounding the very late cancellation of the Manx Rally. This year's event scheduled to run over the weekend of 13-15 Sept was cancelled with less than two weeks to go.

It's not just a sporting loss to British rallying, it will mark a significant financial loss to those who had already booked hotels, ferry passage and time off work to attend.

Trouble is, such an action at this time could put the future of the island event in jeopardy, simply because would-be mainland based competitors, officials and spectators will be wary of risking their hard earned cash and wasting holiday entitlement on aborted trips.

On that basis the Manx government should refund the crews their deposits and payments if the hotels and ferry company don't. This is the least that could be done to try and restore some good faith with the motor sporting community.

Both the politicians and the rally organisers have been critical of each other, but some of the exchanges within the Manx government itself sound a bit like the local Punch & Judy stall concession being handed over to The Donald and The Boris. I would pay money to see that - but I wouldn't want them running anything bigger.

For my money, the rally organisers have done a pretty good job, often in very difficult circumstances, over the past 55 years!

An unfortunate side-effect is that it could boost plans for the comeback of 'mainland' closed road rallying. Mull is only half an hour from Oban by boat and the ferry cost is much cheaper, while the majority of folk won't need a ferry to get to Duns for the Jim Clark. Both events could benefit from this affair as they seek to re-establish themselves on the rallying  calendar next year, and who knows, perhaps encourage other mainland based clubs to look at the idea of staging closed road events.

Hugh Chambers the new MSA Chief
On another note entirely, The MSA now has a new Chief Executive. Hugh Chambers will take over the role formerly held by Rob Jones. So who he you might ask?

Encouragingly, he's not an accountant or a lawyer, nor a civil servant or a politician, although he did study politics, economics and geography at Uni. His working CV is pretty impressive too, but he has gone through 8 jobs in the past 30 years! On the plus side he had a 10 year stint with Prodrive from 1995 to 2005 where he wasn't just the hired help, he was co-owner during the WRC and F1 years.

His background seems to be in all things in marketing and commerce, as well as advertising and promotion, and he's worked with some pretty big outfits including the Olympics, Team Sky cycling and World Sailing. He has considerable experience in strategy, analysis and business development and how to develop successful ‘brand and customer engagement’ programmes. Just what rallying, and motor sport, needs.

The sport badly needs a 'do-er' not a 'talker', a leader not a follower. It also needs a good listener. Fingers crossed, eh?

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