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Thoughts From A Disenfranchised Fan
By Steve Haire

Kent - Long Way from London

I came into speedway in 1968 following the Hackney Hawks and would have gone to West Ham, Wimbledon or Romford every week with the occasional Saturday trip down to Rayleigh. By the mid 70's I would have been doing over 100 meetings a year.

Most Saturdays we would have a car load and pick whoever had the best looking match, of course then you had Kings Lynn, Swindon, Cradley, Coventry, Belle Vue, Canterbury and Halifax. Being single it was quite affordable, even if you were on a lowish income.

By the 80's I'd started following Crayford and would do most of their away trips especially the northern tours, even in the 90's I would still be doing Hackney and Wimbledon and from where I worked in the West End would bike it to either Reading or Oxford.

By the 2000's we had no tracks in London although we did see Wimbledon and Rye House reopen in the third tier of speedway.

Now in the year 2018, we've lost Rye House and now we've heard this will be Arena Essex's last year as a motor sport venue which means if you're a Londoner and want to see live speedway in the flesh Kent or Eastbourne both are the nearest, both in the bottom tier and neither doable by public transport.

The powers that be have always played around with the rules year in year out. The last two years as a Rye fan you've never known what day of the week they were running sometimes going three weeks without a match, you never knew who was going to be turning out for you or the opposition, one match Rye had three guests, the opposition two. You have doubling down riders yet track sharing. It does make a mockery of Speedway.

The idea of fixed race nights was supposed to free up riders riding in Poland, Sweden etc however in their wisdom they then restricted teams to one eight pointer. This is probably the main reason Rye has run up such debts plus the fact that since the introduction of the air fence, which was fixed to the inside of the fence rather than move the fence out, Rye became a one line track meaning everybody heads out to the fence.

On TV you can watch live Swedish and Polish Speedway on Freesports on freeview. If you've read the Arena circuit owners statement they put part of the blame on the BSPA. I've said it so many times, sport is about competition, not restricting teams strengths by points averages, let promoters run the teams they can afford, also another reason for the demise of speedway is very few promoters own their own stadiums. Look at Tottenham Hotspur, they've bought most of Tottenham High Street to build their new Stadium.

I've sent a few emails to the BSPA in respect to the decline of British Speedway and whilst I put the blame fairly and squarely on their collective shoulders I gave constructive criticism how to at least stem the decline in decreasing crowds (I included myself as one of these that will no longer be attending live speedway, in my case that being my nearest speedway track is a 4-5 hour round trip).

I explained all speedway supporters wanted was a good track that races weekly on the day that's best suited, no doubling up, no track sharing, no guests for any reasons, no maximum team averages, 7 riders only riding for one British Club, R/R for injured riders only. Just two leagues as was in 1968 with the formation of the 2nd division.

This would mean promoters run teams they can afford and wouldn't be penalised for a good season by having to lose riders the following year. It should be simple to implement and with junior second halves should help solve the lack of riders available.

I also queried if they read any of the blogs, twitters etc on various sites such this one, however so far I've had no replies, not even a 'thank you for your input and suggestions'.

Perhaps an email from everybody may eventually get a response from them. I sent them to the office@, perhaps the press@ one might get a response.

 

This article was first published on 27th August 2018

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  • BoBo:

    "Very well put. Everything makes sense. A lot of info that should be considered and implemented for the long term plan. "

  • John Middlemiss:

    "Thanks Steve, for voicing your discontent so eloquently, I am sure your comments reflect the thoughts and opinion of the silent majority. I was an avid fan until 1973 when I moved to Canada. Now my speedway fix is restricted to "youtube" and an occasional trip to Cosa Mesa when visiting my daughter in LA. It sounds like the British promoters could learn a lot about putting on a fast paced and entertaining show from the Oxleys."

  • Geoff Miller:

    "Great articles, love speedway, used to watch Arena Essex. We want a speedway team near or in London, the capital city and it has no speedway. Watching the Polish and Swedish speedway, it makes you salivate for a London team, would be nice if we could have speedway at the London stadium or Spurs new ground, instead of that American football, but money talks..."  

     

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