An investigation has revealed that the original TT merchandise contract was awarded to a company which has since collapsed into liquidation.
Cube Partnership Limited was awarded the contract after a tender process in January before going into voluntary liquidation in July. The contract is now held by its parent company, Cube International.
When CPL’s liquidation became public in August, the MHK with responsibility for motorsport Tim Crookall, who has since returned to his old post as Infrastructure Minister, said: ‘Cube International Ltd initially tendered for and successfully were awarded the merchandise contract.
‘There was a brief period where the contract was executed with the subsidiary company and this was reflected in a press release that was issued in January 2023, although this was novated back to the parent company before this year’s event and as such remains fully effective and operational today.’
While the documents released under a Freedom of Information request made by Isle of Man Today's sister title Gef do show that the contract was novated (replaced with a new contract) they also show that not only was the original contract with CPL, but that significant work to move it to Cube International began just three months after the ink was dry on the merchandise contract.
The Cube International website has also altered the original press release to remove references to Cube Partnership.
The opening line of a statement reads: ‘The Isle of Man Government Department for Enterprise has entered into contract with Cube for the licensed supply and production of the Isle of Man TT Races Official Merchandise.’
However, using the internet archive Wayback Machine, Isle of Man found that it originally said: ‘The Isle of Man Government Department for Enterprise has entered into contract with Cube Partnership for the licensed supply and production of the Isle of Man TT Races Official Merchandise.’
Both the original and altered statements list a DfE civil servant as the media contact.
The new contract, moving the agreement to Cube International, was signed on May 3, just weeks before TT23 started.
When CPL was liquidated, it was with debts of over £2m. However, our investigation has revealed that the company was having issues with its credit as early as April 2023, less than 12 weeks after the Department for Enterprise signed the contract.
An email, dated April 14, 2023, from Cube International to the government said: ‘I am writing to seek your approval to move the Isle of Man contract from Cube Partnership into the Cube International, the parent company.
‘The rationale behind this is that Cube International has been asked by a number of suppliers to guarantee or to purchase the stock to support the event, based on the current arrangements in partnership, where credit terms are on limits given the volume of stock on some of our other contracts and events.’
Another email, dated April 15, said that, following poor returns from other sporting events, the company had restructured payment schedules and this was ‘now effecting our credit limit with product suppliers’.
That email said: ‘To resolve the situation our suppliers, people with whom we have long and trusted relationships with, have requested that the Isle of Man TT purchases are made via Cube International.’
It added: ‘The board of Cube International are very happy to support this, especially in the case of the Isle of Man TT, as we see the event as major asset over the next five years and we have considerable faith in our ability to expand the LMR programme into something quite special.
‘However, the only way we can support this, is by having the Isle of Man TT contract held in Cube International.’
In a third email dated April 18, also from an unnamed person at Cube International, it is confirmed that it was Cube International that ‘was the original entity that tendered for the contract’.
After the contract was changed in May 2023, TT came and went with no issues being reported on the availability of the stock.
However, on July 17, an email from an unnamed party is sent to Cube International introducing them to a person ‘from Isle of Man TT’.
That email said: ‘I have made (redacted) aware that Cube Partnership is imminently about to go into administration and he has asked if we can keep him abreast of key developments around that. Particularly, I think he is keen to know when any announcement will go into the press.
‘Obviously, the deal has novated to Cube International but (redacted) to keep key stakeholders on the Isle of Man up to speed as Cube Partnership was the original entity that they contracted with.’
When CPL folded, a statement from the Cube International said it was ‘already developing a new range of merchandise for the 2024 Isle of Man TT Races and is looking forward to sharing these designs with Isle of Man based retailers shortly so that they can place orders and provide merchandise for their customers in 2024’.
- In an earlier version of this story, we reported that the Department for Enterprise (DfE) said that the Isle of Man TT merchandise contract had ‘always been with the parent company (Cube International)’. This was incorrect. The DfE confirmed in August that there was a period where the contract was executed with the subsidiary company (Cube Partnership). We apologise for this error and for any confusion caused.