The crown green was shocked by the news yesterday that the Isle of Man have withdrawn from the BCGBA Endsleigh Insurance Senior County Championship.
Neil Withers, Chairman of the Isle of Man association, was tasked with announcing this sad decision following the collapse of the charter flight company they used. This happened less than a month ago and a huge amount of work has gone into trying to find a way to maintain their presence in the competition. The deadline for the submission of teams for the first game is less than 10 days away and it was too short notice to arrange alternative travel arrangements.
In his statement Neil thanked both the BCGBA and the counties they are due to play for all their help in trying to maintain their presence in the competition.
The primary concern for the Isle of Man had to be the long term future of not only their association but of crown green bowls on the island and the huge costs they could have incurred made the decision inevitable.
A statement was released at the end of March warning of the huge problems now faced by the Isle of Man association in trying to arrange travel for this year’s competition. This stated that the current timings of scheduled commercial flights means that travel off island and return cannot happen in one day – a requirement of the IOM’s inclusion in the BCGBA Endsleigh Insurance Senior County competition.
The BCGBA make a large contribution to the costs each year and this with sponsorship made the application to join the Crosfield Cup viable in 2015. However to stay in the competition this season would have needed a new flight charter company or the use of existing commercial transport to the island which would have meant costs in excess of £6000 for the first game and well in excess of £10,000 for the June game which happens to coincide with the TT festival.
Both in 2015 and last year the charter company ferried both the Isle of Man and their opposing team across the Irish Sea for the game which started earlier than the games on the mainland in order to fit all the traveling into 1 day.
Following the announcement a number of the players who have journeyed to the island took to social media to express their regret at the decision. Renowned bowler and commentator Andy Cairns stated
“I’m so glad I experienced playing the IOM in a county game. The hospitality was absolutely brilliant. One of the best days in bowls I’ve ever had. Hopefully they can regroup and try again next season. Good luck lads”
Andy was joined by Chris Ashton, Tommy King and John Finch who have also had the pleasure of a county match on the island and expressed similar feelings about their experiences of playing on the island.
A number of other contributors also took to social media with suggestions and offers of help to try and maintain their presence in this year’s competition.
Phil Kerruish, a past President of the Isle of Man association stated “the BCGBA along with the three counties involved have been nothing but helpful, as have all the counties we have played. It is the timing…”
The statement, released by Neil Withers on the Isle of Man bowls website, is below.
It is with deep regret that, following last night’s emergency meeting of the IOM County Management Committee, it has been decided that the Isle of Man will not be able to fulfil its fixtures in the Crosfield Cup this season.
This decision was reached with a heavy heart and after a lot of soul searching. However, it was felt that, given the overwhelming increase in our costs that the collapse of Citywing brought about at such short notice (just 3 weeks ago), to proceed with the fixtures could jeopardise the financial stability of the county association and this was a risk that the committee felt they could not take.
We are immediately looking into alternative plans for the IOMCCGBA’s participation in the Crosfield Cup 2018, which will hopefully be cost effective and sustainable for future years.
We must take this opportunity to thank the BCGBA and the three counties involved in our efforts to hastily arrange alternative arrangements for this season’s fixtures, for a while we thought we could find a way through this disaster, but unfortunately time has been our enemy.
Specific thanks must go to off Island support from John Crowther, Duncan Reeves, Graeme Wilson, Mike Holden and Phil Brown.
Once again many thanks for everyone’s help and support, we are saddened to have to take this decision but we feel it is the best course of action to secure future development and safeguard finances across the whole of the IOMCCGBA.
Further information about bowls on the Isle of Man can be found here.