Is Ireland Motocross of Nations in Jeopardy?

Pat Dunne, editor of Ireland’s sent us this breaking story on the recent financial peril that may threaten Ireland’s bid to host Motocross of Nations.

Ministers discussed the North of Ireland Events Company’s future at the Northern Ireland parilment on Thursday last. Speaking afterwards Culture Minister Edwin Poots said they had begun a process, which would lead to the company being wound up. “There has been a deficit of £1.2m identified. Our priority is to ensure that legitimate creditors are paid and our priority is to ensure that key events that we are seeking to bring to Northern Ireland still come to Northern Ireland.”

With Northern Ireland due to stage a number of major events including the World Police and Fire Service Games in 2013, Mr Poots said they wanted to ensure those could still go ahead. However it is not known if this includes the Motocross des Nation which is due to staged in September 2008.

Neither the FIM nor Youthstream have yet been officially advised of the latest developments in Ulster, but Youthstream president Giuseppe Luongo was quick to respond to anxiety over the Nations.”We have a valid contract signed with a state company and for the moment we don’t have any official information about this. So, I cannot say anything more about this.”

But the Italian entepreneur was adamant that the Nations itself was not in danger: “Clearly an event like the Motocross of Nations, which is the biggest off-road event in the world, always needs a Plan B in case something happens, and for sure we have Plan B, C and D!”

Both the FIM andYouthstream had expressed concerns about the Moneyglass venue back in September, and announced that the venue would be inspected again both in March and May before confirming the event for Ulster.

After the outstanding success of the Nations in recent years, there will clearly be no shortage of offers to take over the event if this proves necessary.

Creditors of the Northern Ireland Events Company are to be paid a total of £650,000 by the Northern Ireland government.

The government-funded body, which brought many high-profile events to Northern Ireland, including this year’s FIM MX1 and MX2 Motocross Grand Prix is understood to be £1.2m in debt.

Public Accounts Committee chairman John O’Dowd and member of the local parliament said that they would be requesting an Audit Office report on the company’s “seroius loss of public monies”.

In its time, the company attracted acts like Elton John, Pavarotti, and the Eagles to play in Northern Ireland, and it has also been involved in sporting events like the North West 200 motorcycle road races.