Leading North West 200 official Fergus Mackay says ‘challenging financial pressures’ have led to his role within the organising Coleraine Club being made redundant.
Mr Mackay was the Event Operations Manager for Northern Ireland’s biggest outdoor sporting spectacle, which has been cancelled for two successive years due to the pandemic.
In 2017, he was slated to eventually take over the reins from Event Director Mervyn Whyte as part of a succession strategy announced by the Club.
Whyte continued in his role at the helm of the race until last October, when he announced he was stepping down. The 71-year-old still remains involved in a consultancy role and as a member of the organising committee.
A new Event Director has yet to be appointed but in a statement to event partners confirming his departure as Operations Manager, Mr Mackay said he understood the vacant top job 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,” he said.
“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.”
Mr Mackay said that while some aspects of his role would be taken over, some duties ‘will no longer be carried out’.
“Moving forward, the Club will endeavour to find more efficient and effective ways of delivering some of the duties that my post has been responsible for,” he said. “It is also the case that some of the duties of the role will no longer be carried out.
“On a personal note, I would like to thank you for all the support and assistance you have provided me over the past number of years in delivering the NW200 and trust that you will continue to support the event into the future.”
A spokesperson for Coleraine and District Motor Club said the ‘tough’ decision had been taken as part of a restructuring process brought about by the financial impact of coronavirus.
“Tough decisions have to be made at times in businesses and the Club felt this was what we had to do to progress and move forward,” they said.
“There has been no income because of the Covid situation and staff furlough ends shortly in September, so the feeling was that we needed to make this tough decision.
“We’re working on a restructuring programme around the whole management team.
“The work (of Operations Manager) will be managed by other people and we have reviewed that, but ultimately we have had to cut our cloth and we are working through the process of how that work will be managed.”
The spokesperson said they were confident the North West 200 would return ‘bigger and better’ in 2022.
“Work is continuing 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. The club has complete confidence.”