Analysis by Sean Moriarty
Following the recent outcry regarding the cost of entry fees, as set by Motorsport Ireland, for a stage rally, it is worth exploring exactly where the money goes.
These figures are based on close estimates of how an entry fee is broken down.
Unlike Belgium and some other European countries, Irish rally entry fees do not breakdown where the funds go and what you are paying for.
This is an attempt, based on information in the Green Book, to explain this – It is not meant to be 100 percent accurate and cannot be as some of the info is collated from older MI material.
However, it will go a long way towards explaining where a typical entry fee goes and that despite the ever increasing costs of entry fees, clubs still only manage to break even.
A lot of criticism is aimed at Motorsport Ireland too but once you see the breakdown it will become all the more apparent where the money goes.
This is not based on any one rally, and figures are for guidance only. Figures go up and down, depending on if it’s a mini-stages rally or a full blown two or three-day International event.
Figures published here are not to be taken as gospel – instead use the breakdown to understand why things are as they are.
Approximately €300 from each entry will go toward MI. This covers your Personal Accident Insurance which rises year on year and is outside of MI’s control – much like your own car or business insurance might rise for no reason.
It includes your IRDS, the third party insurance you need to drive the rally car on public road sections.
Another portion of your entry fee will go towards the Billy Coleman award. Clubs are supposed to set aside the price of one entry fee per event (at least this used to be the case) for the award scheme and that is why we had the odd regulation that allowed 131 cars start a rally.
The 131ST fee was returned to MI to fund the award. In the days of falling entry capacities, that figure is divided up between the number of starters to get the returning fee.
And it includes the MI permit fee. Keep in mind there are staff in Dawson St who have to process regulations and make sure they conform to FIA standard, they have to examine the safety plan and make sure it will keep the insurance companies happy, one staff member sends out the weekend results on a Sunday night to all the national newspapers. They all deserve a fair and honest wage, and without their work we would have nothing.
The cost of Public Liability Insurance in this country is frightening – a single day rally costs well over €10,000, probably nearer €12,000 in this day and age – it could even be more so just take this figure as a guideline.
This fee is fixed – if one car or 130 cars start the rally the club and/or MI must pay this total fee to the Insurance company. That is how the insurance company risk-assessed it.
The fairest way to do this? Divide the figure between the number of starters. A large portion of your entry fee goes to this fund and you cannot blame MI for the cost of insurance. (To be fair to the governing body they are fighting insurance companies along with several other sporting and business organisations). Add at least €100 or €120 to the entry fee for this, more if less than 100 cars start.
At this point we are at well over €400 and we haven’t even started the rally.
On the morning of the rally, as you make your way to the first stage, you are guided by your navigator’s road book and time card – both items cost money to print and design.
As you arrive at the first stage, you are greeted by a doctor, an ambulance, paramedic crew, rescue unit and recovery truck…they all cost money to be there.
You are entering a closed public road…the local council takes a fee for this.
Before you start the stage, you will have gone through several controls, each with a rally-spec clock and the stage start will have a proper countdown digital clock. Guess what…the hire or purchase of such equipment is not free!
Along the stage you will see several bales placed on the parapets of bridges and beside concrete walls, there for your protection. A local farmer was paid for these, a local haulage company was probably given diesel money to place them in position.
Same applies to the fire extinguishers.
The 100s of marshals along the route are there since early morning, well before the road closing times. They will be there long after the rally has passed through, clearing spectator litter, gathering signs and arrows etc.
They need a packed lunch for the day, they deserve a hot meal once their work is done and at least give them a free programme as a thank you…there is no such thing as a free lunch!
At the end of the stage you hand your timecards to an official who inputs the details into the live results system – the laptops and the software to operate this system cost money. Within seconds results are live on the internet! Someone has to be paid to create and operate this system.
On some rallies, when you get to the main road, a member of An Garda Siochana is there to direct you out on to the road safely – the club have taken them away from normal policing duties for the day so guess what…they have to be paid.
Repeat all that three times by three times over the day and you can see that every single kilometre costs a lot of money to keep a rally going.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, and there are hidden costs too.
A few quid to the parish priest to change Mass times, a donation to the local GAA club who moved their Under 12 training from Sunday to Saturday to allow the rally pass, pay for a few pints in the local pub to thank the farmers who swept the gravel off the road, book a gardener because spectators trampled Mrs Murphy’s daffodils…it goes on and on.
When the rally is over, the club hosts a prizegiving event in the hotel – one way to give the sponsoring hotel a few quid back.
Most competitors are away up the road, they won’t even wait around to collect the trophy that the organising committee spent money on to have it there!
And by the time you get to work on Monday morning, the Clerk of Course will already have negotiated the price of rebuilding a flattened wall or destroyed fence…which of course costs more money.
So, while it is easy to blame the clubs and MI for increasing the costs, competitors need to have a good understanding at what it costs to put an event together too.
There are complaints about events costing €1000 euros but when you look at the breakdown above you will see there is very little, if any, profit margin.
And as a result of the pandemic, local sponsorship and programme sales will take a massive hit.
We would all love to return to the days of €500 entry fees (even less) so a challenge to all of you…tell us how to run an event within the current health and safety (and insurance) guidelines on a budget that will reduce entry fees.
There is one solution, spectators will have to start paying!
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