[Interviews]

State Of Play: Part 1, The Administrator

4 months ago | Words: Simon Barratt | Photos: Supplied

This damned Covid-19 bug has sent a shockwave through the global economy and Australia has been touched up in a big way. As we hit publish, airlines are heading into administration, sport is on hold, the bloody pub is closed and certain industries have been forced to lay off staff and shut up shop. But what has been the impact on our motorcycling industry, you may ask?

Over the next few weeks, Transmoto will roll out “State of Play”, a series of insightful content, where we speak with leaders, business owners, distributors, team managers, retailers and general moto legends operating within the industry to understand more about the challenges they face and what it means for you.  

First cab off the rank is the CEO of Motorcycling Australia (MA), Peter Doyle.  Doyle has had his hands wrapped around two-wheeled machines for the best part of four decades. After 14 years coaching and managing teams to victory around the world, and a long stint in the USA, Doyle returned to Australia in 2014 and was appointed to the top job of MA in 2016. He’s a down-to-earth good bloke, and his insight and guidance for the industry in this uncertain time will be very important. 

Peter, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Firstly, what have been some of the immediate impacts on the MA business?

The major impact is a shut down of events due to government restrictions.  The majority of MA’s income is derived from events, licenses and insurance, even when we were restricted to 500 people for mass gatherings for a majority of national events it’s just not possible to comply.

How quickly did these changes come about? 

It was clear to us that this issue was building. However on that Friday, when the F1 GP was cancelled,  it all accelerated. Up until that day, business was comparable to 2019. Two weeks later everything stopped.

What is your current situation with staff and business operations in general? 

We started immediately on cost-saving measures and cancelled all travel for staff and board. More recently, all staff hours have been reduced.

What initiatives are you/your business working on to adapt? 

At this stage, we are keeping the business ticking over, catching up on areas that need attention, looking at possible scenarios for when activity can recommence. We have so many draft calendars, I’m losing track! With all the disciplines wanting to get events in later in the year, that area of the business is busier than ever. We are working on cost saving, insurance, rent, government grants, suppliers and so on to enable us to get through this period of inactivity.

How have you been impacted by international markets (product availability, currency etc..)? 

No impact from a product point of view, however international events are impacted. I struggle to see how there will be any in 2020. And as an island, I don’t see how the government is going to allow foreigners into the country while we are trying to eradicate Covid-19. We are an island and Covid-19 wasn’t born here; it was delivered to us from foreigners and returning Aussies entering the country. Getting local sport going is one thing, but I cannot see the borders being opened freely for foreigners for some time. As all international events are under MA jurisdiction, this will have a major effect on our revenue.

What do you see as the biggest challenges over the next six months?

Survival of MA and all the state bodies. We are eight different businesses, so it will be a balancing act to try and ensure all can survive through the next six months. At this time, we are confident it can, but it’s dependent on how long we have no activity. What if it is 12 months? Well, that’s another story. Sport itself has huge issues, and with most sports being not-for-profit, they don’t have huge reserves to get through long periods of inactivity.

How will this change the way you do business in the future? What does April 2021 look like? 

The effect on business is yet to be fully understood and it’s going to get way worse before it gets better – unemployment, disposable income, the motorcycle market, members who decide they haven’t been riding for six months and move onto something else. MA as a federation for some time has needed to streamline its business by reducing duplication across the country, and it’s possible Covid-19 will decide that for us.

How do you see this all playing out (work and community) before we return to normality?  

The effects of this will be with us for a number of years. I don’t see anything currently that would make me believe we will see a quick recovery.

Any other thoughts about the wider moto community and industry in general? 

If there is a time when the whole industry needs to work together, it’s now. I don’t think I’m aware of anything that has affected society like this since the last world war – panic buying, lining up for basic items, most businesses shut down, unemployment expected to  reach levels similar to the Great Depression, and certainly levels not seen in my lifetime. The motorcycle community needs to work closely together and look for any opportunities that may come out of this disaster. People who ride bikes are generally quite passionate about the sporting side, so hopefully we can get them out to watch some racing when we are allowed outside again. One thing we know in racing is that racers want to race, they will go racing as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

Doyle, in happier days, alongside the AME management team launching Australia’s most successful Supercross Event – The AUS-X Open. Will we ever see stadium events return?

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