The Isle of Man has missed a ‘golden opportunity’ with festival

Paloma Faith in concert at Sherwood Pines

Paloma Faith in concert at Sherwood Pines

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The organiser of the cancelled Isle of Man Festival says the island has missed out on a ‘golden opportunity’.

Chris Heyes said the decision to pull the plug on the event, which was to have taken place in Noble’s Park, Douglas, on July 6 with a line-up that boasted Primal Scream, Paloma Faith and Johnny Marr, was a ‘huge disappointment’.

He blamed lack of ticket sales – but has vowed to try again next year.

He told iomtoday: ‘This is obviously a huge disappointment. I’ve had this on my desk since 2008. The Isle of Man deserves something like this.

‘The support was there and we are so grateful for that. The genuine people who bought tickets are absolutely gutted.

‘But I don’t think the people of the island understand what they have just lost. It would have been massive. They’ve missed a golden opportunity.’

Mr Heyes said the festival had needed to sell just under 7,000 tickets to break even. In the event it sold just 2,146.

He said it had become clear 15 days ago that new investment had to come in but he was not prepared to risk investors’ money unless he was certain the ticket sales would materialise.

‘Last weekend was pivotal,’ he explained. ‘We wanted to sell about 1,000 tickets but we didn’t come anywhere near. The only way forward was with another investor. There were people we were talking to over the weekend but I was not prepared to take a risk with them as we could not guarantee the ticket sales. We were not prepared to risk people’s businesses and livelihoods.’

Mr Heyes said he was convinced that the line-up had not been a problem and people had to be realistic. ‘The demographic spread covered every angle from teenagers all the way up the early 40s.’

He defended the ticket price pointing out that £55 was good value to see artists who have had number one singles and albums – while it would cost the best part of £400 to travel to and attend the Leeds or Reading festivals.

He insisted that everyone who bought a ticket ‘not just should, but will’ get a refund. Those who have bought tickets via PayPal in the last 60 days have already been refunded.

But Mr Heyes remained upbeat – and is determined to stage a festival next year.

‘Nobody had died. We just have to move on and regroup with the contacts I’ve made. I’m meeting some of the coolest people in the next 48 hours and they still want to work with me and put something on. Let’s see what we can do.’

He said the aim of the festival was to break even in years one and two but turn a profit by year three, and Mr Heyes said he had no doubt that the event would have gone on to attract 15,000 over two days in future and to have received global coverage.

To avoid a repeat of this year’s problem a bit of ‘tough love’ was needed, he said. ‘My idea is that we will release a number of tickets and if those tickets are sold we will carry on. We will advertise what we need to break even.’

Mr Heyes confirmed that discounts had been offered to government workers – but insisted this had not been an attempt to drum up ticket sales in the last few days. He said: ‘We put a package together three weeks before. It should have gone out earlier than it did. It was only a small discount not dissimilar to what was being offered with our sponsor.’

Organisers distanced themselves from a PR firm after an unauthorised statement was put out. London-based Impressive PR claimed the festival’s Twitter account had been hit by hackers.

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