Top NW200 official made redundant as club forced to 'cut our cloth'

North West 200 Event Operations Manager Fergus Mackay says ‘financial pressures’ have resulted in his role being made redundant within Coleraine and District Motor Club.

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 10:29 pm
Updated Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 10:30 pm

Mackay along with Event Co-Ordinator Gillian Lloyd were touted to take over the running of the event from race chief Mervyn Whyte as part of a ‘succession strategy’ announced by the club in 2017.

However, the plan never came to fruition and in October last year, Limavady man Whyte revealed he was stepping down from his position as Event Director after 20 years.

The 71-year-old remains involved in a consultancy role, although the North West has not been held since the event marked its 90th anniversary in 2019, with the coronavirus pandemic resulting in the cancellation of Ireland’s biggest road race for two consecutive years.

Former NW200 Event Operations Manager Fergus Mackay (right) with former Event Director Mervyn Whyte and Gillian Lloyd, NW200 Event Co-ordinator.

In a statement, Mr Mackay said the Coleraine Club had been forced to take ‘difficult decisions’ relating to its staffing structure, and claimed the vacant role of Event Director would not be filled.

“As you may be aware, for many years Coleraine & District Motor Club has had to deliver the North West 200 under very challenging financial circumstances.

“As a direct consequence of this, the Committee of Coleraine & District Motor Club has now been forced to take some difficult decisions in relation to its staffing structure.

“In addition to deciding not to fill the vacant Event Director position, the financial pressures facing the Club mean that it is also no longer financially viable to retain my role as Operations Manager at the North West 200, resulting in the post being made redundant with immediate effect.”

A NW200 spokesperson said the club had been forced to ‘cut its cloth’ as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The bottom line is that we’re working on a restructuring programme around the whole management team. The post (Operations Manager) will be filled but the work will be completed in a different way in the future.

“The work will be managed by other people and we have reviewed that and looked at it, but we had to cut our cloth.

“We also have people within the club who have a background in this and can manage the safety and health aspects involved, so we are working through the process of how that work will be managed at the moment.

“There has been no income because of the Covid situation and staff furlough ends shortly, so the feeling was that we needed to make this tough decision.

“We’re working away on planning for 2022 and the provisional date has been set next year of May 14, so we’re looking to run bigger and better next year because unfortunately we haven’t been able to run the North West 200 over the past two years as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.”