The pubs are closed but we all want a pint- The parallel universe between rallying and real life.
Opinion by Sean Moriarty
Our sport is in trouble and the only way to avert trouble is to compromise.
There are a few issues at hand at the moment bit the biggest one is the proposed cost of entry fees.
There are very few club competitors out there who can afford the fees offered in Motorsport Ireland’s return to rallying document and asking €1000 for a nine-stage rally in a step too far. That is the opinion of the vast amount of rally competitors in the country right now.
Organisers face a difficult task too. Recently Kerry Motorsport News published a breakdown on the costs of running a rally.
If you have not seen it before, its work revisiting it before reading the rest of this article.
Now read on
So here is the scenario. Drivers say we are not paying €1000 (or any other version of the entry fee V stage kilometre scenario).
Hard pressed organisers can run rallies cheaper than the MI proposals, but not by much and there is no margin for error in their budgets.
So, we have a classic stalemate. And the only way to solve a stale mate is a compromise.
I offer here, a few scenarios that will benefit both parties but at the same time will require both to change attitudes before this gets way out of hand and we have nothing.
Take my own county as an example. The Circuit of Kerry traditionally runs in April. The Rally of the Lakes a month later. You can count on one hand the number of crews that do both rallies.
Taking registration figures for the 2020 Kingdom of Kerry Rally Championship, just 12 drivers entered both the Circuit of Kerry and the Rally of the Lakes.
That leaves, potentially, at least 100 drivers and 100 navigators available to marshal on the Rally of the Lakes. I know many did. But here is the compromise bit.
Competitors who marshal on local events should do so at their own expense – not at the club’s expense. Bring your own packed lunch, buy your own dinner on the way home and even buy an event programme.
That alone could save the organising club at least €50 per marshal – most rallies need well over 100 volunteers so you are now into a potential €5k saving for a club that could be passed on to entry fees – this is about every one paying their part.
Regular volunteer marshals should continue to get the perks of the job – without them we would be going nowhere anyway.
Since the arrival of Euro currency in 2002, official rally programmes have always and ever cost €10. I accept some bigger rallies charge €12.50 or €15.00 but for the vast majority of one-day national rallies, the cost has always been a teener.
To put that in context, 19 years ago a pint of Guinness cost €3.25, you would be lucky to have the change out of a fiver today. That’s nearly a 40 percent increase.
Charge €20 for a programme, it is the same as paying an admission fee to most other sporting occasions and there is no denying it, spectators get a free show when it comes to Irish rallying. That day must be over.
Dare I say it. They should be made pay. Yes, there is a big debate about how it will work, bla bla bla
It works in practically every country in Europe that closes public roads for rallying.
The genuine fan will pay, those who don’t want to pay are not genuine fans so who needs them? And the cost might keep some away , but so what , it will make the marshals job easier. It is time for an open debate on this subject and realistic proposals to make it work.
A supporters club
Back in the mid-1980s Irish rallying ground to a halt because of the lack of insurance. For one year, rally cars stayed in their sheds – sounds familiar?-
Until the Irish Tarmac Rally Supporters Club was formed. TheY fundraised, had collection buckets at Mondello Park and other rallies north of the border, they kept going until they had enough money to pay the insurance firm.
A supporters fund needs to be established – managed and used to cut costs everywhere, but particularly for the organisers who will in turn pass the savings to the entrants.
There are three ideas there for ye and instead of bitching about this, blaming that and moaning, it is time to band together.
Our first port of call is putting more money in to the clubs without taking more money out of competitors’ pockets.
I have purposely kept Motorsport Ireland out of this. They are the governing body.
Just like the vintners are the umbrella group for pubs. The landlord sets the prices but the punters decide where they drink.
Like a parallel universe, the pubs are closed, we would all like a pint, but to make that happen we all have to help each other.
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