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Marshaling requirements add more fuel to Isle of Man fire

An ongoing row in the Isle of Man following the announcement of changes affecting the Manx GP, the now defunct Classic TT and, more recently, the TT Marshals Association has exposed the absolute need to do things differently in order to cater for a world which is almost the opposite from the fifties and sixties.

The announcement that the 2022 TT will be covered live on must surely have convinced the social media Doubting Thomases that this year’s event is not threatened. Indeed it is the start of a revolution by boss Paul Phillips and his team.

And the changes being made to the TTMA, some of which have not gone down well with everybody especially since the dismissal of a senior marshal who criticised the speed of change, has also exposed the size and importance of a voluntary body which is largely unknown.


They are a group certainly bigger, and in some ways more important, than the riders themselves. Because without both the TT would not take place.

On any given race day the 37.73-mile circuit requires something on the region of 600 or more marshals. And the TT fortnight will require total number of something like 1500, all volunteers.

The challenge from 2022 onwards is the even greater attention to rider safety which requires more intensive training, clothing which reflects the seriousness of the role, including better protection, and the time commitment given by volunteers The total cost, underwritten by by IoM government but distributed by ACU Events, will be somewhere in the region of £200,000 which includes training days on the mainland.

Encouraged by ACU Events and Race Director Gary Thompson, the TTMA is turning from being a club into a business - non-profit making but a business nevertheless with revised articles of association , ie rules within which it can operate. And anyone who has had to interpret such documents will not be surprised to hear that last week’s general meeting of the TTMA had to be adjourned to allow members to absorb what some of the new rules really meant.

Further discussions taking place this week will lead to a second general meeting of the board when Chairman David Dentith and his colleagues will expect to get agreement and move on. Progress has been made more difficult by a barrage of comments, some helpful, some justifiable, some of the “we’re all doomed” category, via social media on the proposed changes, particularly to the much loved Manx.

It is not surprising that Dentith, Manx businessman, farmer and still bearing the wounds of an earlier life in motocross, is not a fan of social media and the keyboard warriors who seems to have the ability to start a fight in a telephone box.

He told bikesportnews: “Instead of sitting at home and criticising why don’t they do something to help, we have worked very hard to make the changes necessary and the Government has listened. The responsibility on marshals, particularly those in charge of sectors, is huge. They are there to make racing on the TT course safer. And it should be remembered they are volunteers.

“Proper training both on the island and the mainland is expensive as are the necessary improvements to a communication system overcoming the handicaps of the island’s geography. Many are only able to do two or three days - some only one - but more than ever they have to be capable.

“And we should not forget that somewhere like 60 per cent come from outside the island where accommodation, in TT week, is not cheap although much is good value such as Peter Duke’s TT village, self catering homestay schemes or guest houses.

“Between now and TT practice we have a hell of a lot to do and we need to get on with it.”

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