Ulster Grand Prix: clerk of the course Johnston 'shocked' by financial problems

Ulster Grand Prix clerk of the course Noel Johnston
Noel Johnston said he was heartbroken over the UGP's financial plight

Ulster Grand Prix clerk of the course Noel Johnston says the revelation of the event's major financial problems came as a "shock" to him.

The club revealed last week that the future of the event was in "real and imminent danger" because of debts said to be in excess of £250,000.

Johnston released a statement on Tuesday saying that he had no input on the event's financial decisions.

"It was a shock to realise how bad the event's finances had become," he said.

"To date I have still not been made fully aware of the exact figures owed to creditors.

"I resigned as a director of the [organising] Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club over eight years ago to concentrate on my role as clerk of the course which means I had no further control or input on financial decisions."

Ulster Grand Prix
The Ulster Grand Prix has continued to attract large grids of top competitors in recent years

'Riders not paid in full for 2019 event'

Johnston's statement added that he was given a "relatively modest budget" every year to pay riders to compete, adding that it was his understanding that competitors had not been paid in full for the 2019 event.

"These men and women put on a tremendous show in tricky racing conditions and I am dismayed they have been put in this position," continued Johnston.

The Ulster Grand Prix clerk of the course also said that he had "never received any salary for my role....only minimal expenses", adding that he was "heartbroken" by the event's current plight.

"The Ulster has been a huge part of my life. I have volunteered in the role for 18 years and am as passionate about it today as I have ever been.

"To see the event with such a rich heritage and history jeopardised is heartbreaking and my only hope is that it doesn't disappear from the road racing calendar."

Dundrod and District Club president James Courtney told BBC Sport Northern Ireland on Friday that bad weather forecast for this year's main Saturday race at the event led to a low turnout of paying spectators.

The extent of the financial crisis affecting the event has led the club to commission an urgent review to assess the viability of running the race meeting in 2020.

A decision will then be taken in the coming weeks as to the future of the club.

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