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  1. 9 points
    I DOUBT whether there is a promoter who wouldn't tell you that individual meetings are financial suicide. Team racing is the lifeblood of speedway in the UK which is why all the efforts of those in the BSPA must focus on getting that right. But, no matter what people on here might think, there isn't an easy solution that will work an overnight miracle. My own view, for what it's worth, is that regular and continuity of fixtures, overhauling the averages system and adding to the entertainment value during a meeting would at least be a start.
  2. 9 points
    The five-page interview with Rob Godfrey in this week's Speedway Star certainly provides food for thought. Firstly, we can only take what we see quoted at face value and perhaps he said more which couldn't be included for space reasons. Benefit of the doubt. While I don't profess to know his background or what he does or doesn't do for the sport today, I've never spoken to the man, there are a number of points raised that I'd like to respond to and are worthy of further critical analysis (sorry to waffle on and hope you stay awake till the end!: SEMI-PRO OR AMATEUR? Rob alludes to, if not quite advocates, the idea of British speedway becoming semi-pro in the future, which (as I suggested in another recent BSF thread) it needs to do NOW in the short-term if it is to survive with any credibility left. He effectively spells it out just why this is the case when referring to the recent demise of Championship treble winners Workington. And the nail is well and truly smashed on the head in a separate, much smaller, item in the same issue of the Star in which Workington promoter Laura Morgan reveals that running the second tier club has cost her around £750,000 in total and that another injection of £75,000 would be required simply to run this year, when Comets would surely expect to incur at least the same loss, if not more given how hard it would be to repeat their 2018 triple. Later in the piece, Rob cites his own Josh Auty as one rider who "seems to make it pay" competing only in one league. If Auty can, who don't many others? As long as promoters keep paying them collectively more than what turnstiles and sponsorship income, they will continue to spend (waste?) money on expensive machinery, engine tuning, mechanics and fancy transport. Only the promoters can stop this happening. FULL-TIME PROMOTERS The question of professional promoters is a double-edged sword. Rob says that of the modern day regime, "not one of us needs to do it". Therein lies one problem: rightly or wrongly, they are not running their clubs on a full-time, 24/7 basis and don't depend on the sport for a living - unlike the likes of Fearman, Ochiltree, Silver, Dunton, Wilson, Thomas, Mawdsley, etc in days gone by. It was their livelihood - yes, of course, there were less counter-attractions competing for fans' money and - but they still had to work hard for it. For many (if not all) of today's ilk, speedway is a hobby they can indulge (for a while at least) to feed their egos. Unfortunately, the sport in Britain has been denigrated so much over the years that there is no turning back. COUNTING THE COST Rob reveals that winning the league (Div 2) in 2012 cost Scunthorpe 30 grand, suggesting Sheffield probably paid a similar price in their pursuit of honours. Later, he gives Glasgow as a prime example of a club that has the slickest PR machine in the country . . . yet still cannot attract sufficient crowds to meet their running costs. This, in itself, tells you all you need to know about promoters over-paying riders. The sums just don't add up. Yes, of course, riders deserve to be paid handsomely for the risks they take. But no business will survive, long-term, if it continues to ignore the basic rules of life: don't pay out more than you can afford. COMPARING THE PAST As for Rob's line about speedway today being "far, far better than it ever was", provocatively reproduced on the Star's front cover, I reckon thousands of our customers at Retro Speedway would vehemently disagree! To be fair, Rob is duty bound to promote his club and modern speedway in general, and in doing tries to discredit the past and (to paraphrase Harold Macmillan) convince his punters that "you've never had it so good". So we must assume that he never had the privilege of enjoying the likes of great entertainers such as Peter Collins, Chris Morton, the Morans, Bruce Penhall, Michael Lee, Ole Olsen, Jan O. Pedersen, Simon Cross, Malcolm Simmons, Mark Loram (started in 1987) . . . the list really is endless and I've not even mentioned the innumerable BL2/National League favourites who thrilled the crowds week in, week out. If he was talking about the Grand Prix, compared to the old and long-winded World Championship qualifying system, I'd be inclined to agree. The GPs routinely serve up tremendous entertainment and invariably top quality racing, where riders of equal ability are well matched. But comparing the GPs with the Elite League matches I've seen on telly is more often than not chalk and cheese. Riders strung out by half-a-lap isn't entertainment, nor any sort of advert for domestic speedway. From what we read, the point Rob doesn't seem to grasp here is that the days of a reserve or middle order man popping out of the gate and holding a world class rider at bay for all four laps are long gone and now rarer than a truthful MP. Speed, and the riders' unquenchable thirst for it, has helped kill the sport as a spectacle, although here the promoters of the mid-70s must shoulder a lot of blame for failing to nip the four-valve revolution in the bud before it sent costs spiralling out of control and that's where we are today. PROMOTING - HIGHLIGHTS PACKAGE I was encouraged to read of the BSPA's plans for a revamped website with hopes to include free-to-air matches. In the same issue I read that Poland will be airing a magazine-style show every Monday. So it begs the question: why haven't the BSPA done a deal with Go-Speed and all the individual DVD filming companies covering the tracks to put together, say, a weekly 30-minute show showcasing the past week's highlights, complemented by interviews with promoters and riders on current topics and burning issues? Would not a sufficient number of fans not be prepared to pay a nominal 50p or £1 per week throughout the season to cover production costs? The show could be offered as a download from the BSPA site with the same show being uploaded to YouTube a week later (if it hit YT at the same time, there would obviously be no point in paying the small sub). For obvious reasons, these edited highlights would not include any from 'live' BT Sport matches. British speedway desperately needs to harness its relationship with BT Sport if it is to have any hope of attracting a national sponsor, or backers for each of the three divisions (alas, Rob did not mention this failure on the BSPA's part). The BSPA already has the ideal experienced and knowledgeable anchor man/presenter on its pay roll in Nigel Pearson, while two or three of the best people producing DVDs could be tasked to edit the best action clips and interviews. Reality is, though, a weekly highlights download via the BSPA site or uploaded to YouTube probably won't attract one new supporters, especially a youngster who can't take his or her eyes off their smart phone for more than a few seconds. This will sound crazy to some, but promoters' priority should be to do all they can to KEEP their existing supporter base and TRY to win back those who have been disenfranchised over the part 10 years. Forget chasing new, young fans . . . speedway just doesn't cut it with them and very probably never will again. So forget them for now and focus all energies on keeping what you have and winning back the old faithful with fresh ideas, well prepared tracks and a professionally run sport. Only last week we at Retro Speedway were delighted to take on five new subscribers to our bi-monthly Backtrack magazine. OK, five in a matter of days is really nothing. But not in the context of where British speedway is now it isn't. They are five people who enjoyed reliving past memories but are now engaging with the sport again. Facebook is the biggest factor in this: whether you personally log on to FB or not and regardless of your personal preferences (FB, forum or Twitter), more and more of the older generation are signing up to Facebook's social media platform to 'chat' to kindred spirits - and that is where the BSPA should be looking to re-recruit former fans who might be tempted back into stadiums. This is where they will find their target audience. SOCIAL MEDIA Rob again uses Glasgow as his best example of a club that does social media very well. But he is wrong to excuse others clubs for not emulating them, or even going close to doing so, by using costs as an excuse. Having a good mate who runs a successful non-league football club, I can confirm that a good promo video was produced for them for as little as £750 . . . or, to put it another way, the equivalent of what some riders in UK speedway earn in one night. Running good Twitter and Facebook platforms is very inexpensive - all that's needed are the right people to manage and execute it to an acceptably professional standard and who have the imagination to offer what supporters should expect from these services. DOUBLING-UP, GUESTS AND RACE FORMAT While Rob was of course asked about how the rampant use of guests and doubling-up does untold harm to the sport's image, he dismisses very lightly the suggestion that the problems would be eased by cutting team numbers from seven to six and adopting a new heat formula (six-man teams have been used in the past). Am I missing something here? British speedway doesn't have enough riders of a certain minimum standard to staff its three leagues, and yet the hierarchy blindly sticks with seven-man teams even though virtually every club in the land is inevitably soon forced into calling up guests and doubling-up riders. Rob admits: "We don't have a big enough crop of riders without doubling-up, which is what causes all the problems". We know what the problems are, Rob. What we desperately need from people like you who govern and run the sport are solutions and ideas. Six-man teams (even in the short-term, until the young Brits coming up are up to scratch in a few years' time) won't eradicate the needs for guests, R/R and doubling-up but surely it's a no-brainer as at least a starting point . . . or please tell me why it isn't? What disillusions me more than anything when I read comments from promoters in the wake of another BSPA AGM is the chronic lack of ideas and innovation. I mean, why aren't one or two competitions run on slightly different formats and rules? Where's the variety - if not in terms of team numbers, then at least in competition formats? Even the rightly much-maligned England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had the gumption to realise that fans needed more than a staple diet of four-day Championship games and the sport has generally reaped the benefit of introducing two DIFFERENT limited-overs formats, the 50-over one-day league and T20 knockout comp, which are replicated in all major cricketing countries. I'd like to see a promoter come up with something a bit radical and off the wall. Put on a 16 or 20-heat meeting that embraces different sections: team racing and individual events; perhaps throw in a couple of match-races (Golden Helmet & Silver Helmet - remember them?); a few handicap races where the top riders start off the back grid; a 4-heat 250cc juniors event; maybe even a ladies' race (look how much national publicity is afforded to women's football and cricket at domestic and international level ). Indeed, why not run the KO Cup along these lines for a season on an experimental basis? Supporters might actually look forward to attending, because it's DIFFERENT. But with British speedway, it's the tired, predictable same old, same old. Lots of ongoing, familiar problems, very few solutions.
  3. 8 points
    Not by me it isn't. No team should go into February without the full 1-7 known. It's a nonsense situation
  4. 7 points
    Dead easy to cut down the number of guests. Each team to have a NL (2.00) no. 8. Guest for your number 1 only. R/R for nos. 2 to 5. If both teams are using R/R then your highest reserve is promoted into the team and your no. 8 takes his reserve spot.
  5. 5 points
    And as RG alluded to in the SS, 'guest riding' is a nice earner for the riders which helps fund their riding, hence they are here to stay.. Their team might only have 30 or so meetings but riders can ride many, many more times if they have the 'right average' .... (and maintain it)...
  6. 5 points
    NOT saying whether I agree or disagree with Rob's comments and am certainly not generally a fan of decisions made by the BSPA, but ... without people like Rob, funding speedway tracks that for the most part are not even profitable, there would be no speedway. And with regards to Scunthorpe... he created one of the best tracks in the country and if racing was good elsewhere the sport might not have some of the problems it does today. Just saying ...
  7. 5 points
    Hopefully the majority of fans who go to support their team, don't visit this forum. All this negativity is no good for our sport. The simple answer is. Back Speedway or lose it.
  8. 5 points
    Fine but exactly how many people who read it nationwide will make a trip to the Lynn terraces? Not enough to counteract the number of Lynn fans they have alienated who won't be there
  9. 4 points
    it's a tricky one ...my memories of years gone by at Swindon was that the track was very deep to start with . These days it's risk free and very slick from the start . There can be no doubt it's been a poor track for quite a while now and not only that quite dangerous with holes etc ..One of the reasons Nick Morris left was because of it . A school of thought might that the lack of money in speedway is also effecting how the tracks are being set up .
  10. 4 points
    Sadly, I think you're right. Another example of how the sport is being run for the benefit of its paid employees rather than its paying customers.
  11. 4 points
    I fear we will not hear from Ged or Neil again. It is almost unbelievable the total disregard for the paying public shown by the Mafia and the seeming contempt in which we are regarded.
  12. 4 points
    I don't agree. I'd say that racing today is no better or worse than it has always been. I think its fair to say that neither Sheffield nor King's Lynn are as good as they used to be, but Workington, Peterborough and Plymouth are better. Berwick remains the same, and I think there are few that would dispute that even the superlative Hyde Road is matched by the NSS. No track today has the appalling standard of preparation of places like Nelson & Doncaster, and there is surely none that has the notorious gaters paradise reputation that Coventry had. I saw good meetings and bad meetings then and I see them now.
  13. 4 points
    The reason for the decline for me is the sport no longer has anything left for the supporters to get ramped up about. The whole working man's aspect has disappeared. Rider punch ups, deliberate fencing, aggressive racing, argumentative managers with referee's etc. It's all gone. The sport is to clean cut, rider's all mate's. No passing is attempted much unless an easy opportunity presents itself. For the supporters, more often than not you part with your hard earned, listen to abysmal centre green presentation, abysmal music, abysmal processional racing, abysmal atmosphere but people claim £17-£18 is cheap for a "professional" sport?!?!? The sport currently, is so abysmal, many wouldn't part with a £1 on a weekly basis with the extra costs of meeting day fuel, food and drink etc. British Speedway is in an absolute quagmire and there's absolutely no chance of a fix. British Speedway is 'bleeding out' and waiting for it's last breath to be taken. I firmly now believe that the promoters know then end is coming and are intentionally winding down the sport until it's completely unviable. Clubs are now closing as buyers are impossible to come by. I think we just have to get into the mind set for the inevitable. Those that still get enjoyment will continue, those that don't will never return, that's where we are, the point of no return folks.
  14. 4 points
    The standard of riders was obviously better back in the day, with most of the best riders in the world appearing in British racing, but that doesn't necessarily lead to better racing. The best guys were largely full time and filled their boots against riders who might be turning up with only one bike and riding at tracks they saw once a season. Obviously, there were great races but they stick out in the memory and the processions get forgotten about. Speedway seemed better because there were bigger crowds and better presentation. Alan Morrey's two minute button at Belle Vue was legendary, whereas most of the recent meetings I've been to have dragged interminably. Speedway back in the 60s and 70s also benefitted from presenting more races. I've recently been looking at the Speedway Researcher website and the Coventry section for the early BL years has details of the second hald races. Coventry regularly put on 20 races, most tracks 19 and one or two 21. The evening ended with a Rider of the Night final, which certainly in some of the runaway Belle Vue victories I saw was often the best race of the night and cute promoters elsewhere knew to get the riders to put on a show in the last race of the night (none of this should be seen as a plea for the return of the second half as they'd certainly had their day by the time they were got rid of). The other thing was that speedway then was full of confidence; the formation of the Provincial League, the successful amalgamation of the PL and the NL and the formation of Division 2 all took place within a 10 year period and the sport seemed to be going places. Now, the atmosphere seems overwhelmingly negative, with contraction not expansion the chief expectation. It's difficult to see a recovery like there was 50 years ago, but then that recovery could never have been predicted 10 years before it happened. Let's hope history repeats itself.
  15. 4 points
    Reading the RG comments you couldn't help but get the impression of someone 'stating the bleedin' obvious'! It's almost like a summary of the past five to ten years on here!! However you then read comments around the fact that 'all promoters now realise what needs to be done' and you then think (amazingly), that maybe there have been some promoters over the past five to ten years who must have thought it was all going 'OK'! Maybe there now is a true realism of actually where the sport currently sits amongst the rest of the sports in Britiain and realistic plans will be put in place going forward? But you then read comments around guests for example, where they get dismissed as an almost 'inevitably', without even a thought to eradicate something that destroys any credibility the sport has, and you think that maybe after all that the reality will be more of 'same old, same old'.. He did mention being in the 'last chance saloon' so hopefully there is some real focus as a collective now... My doubt to be honest though is that as they are the ones who have led the sport to its current position (whilst blindly not seeing the obvious and inevitable conclusion that such a ridiculous operating and business model would bring), then, are they really the ones capable of sorting it all out? I hope so, but do have my doubts..
  16. 4 points
    The best racing I've seen on a week-to-week basis is at modern day Scunthorpe, so I understand Rob Godfrey's statement. If I'd have been privileged to watch racing on a weekly basis at Hyde Road in the 70s, maybe I'd disagree. To be honest, I don't think the racing is any better or any worse. The big difference is the atmosphere during meetings - that's not the same. And that's down to crowds being a fraction of what they were.
  17. 4 points
    Bournemouth echo??
  18. 4 points
    Same. It’s been such a strange winter with a lot to take in and there’s been a fair few up and down emotions but now the dust has settled and the season is nearly upon us, I’m very much looking forward to it. From an Ipswich perspective, I don’t think we have a great team but that’s not stopping me from looking forward to the season. I’m really interested to see how the Pole takes to Foxhall as he is a rider I’ve not yet seen. Enjoyed the Ipswich/Panthers meetings in the Championship and I’m looking forward to these meetings again in the top flight. Will also be good to see old favourites like Hans Andersen back at Foxhall too.
  19. 4 points
    The considered opinion is that Rev Limiters only have any effect at the start. Back in my days as a 17 year old owner of a Triumph Tiger Cub, we had a rev limiter! Only it was just called a throttle in those days!
  20. 4 points
    I for one am looking forward to the new season
  21. 4 points
    I'll be surprised if you have actually seen him. I saw him a couple of times last season and he was just superb - the most talented youngster I have seen since Woffinden. The first was riding for Mildenhall at the NSS - never the easiest place for visiting NL riders. After a couple of seconds he really got the hang of the place and his last to first in heat 15 was just sublime. The second was for Ipswich against Scunthorpe in what was probably the most impressive individual performance I saw anywhere in 2018. Paid 14 from 5 starts against Championship opposition tells its own story. If he can stay clear of injury, he should easily put at least 2 points on that staring average.
  22. 3 points
    At least the “wobblers “seem to be trying for 4 laps which is not the case for the “seasoned” riders at times,better to have a”nice “ average for guesting for some of them at times IMO.
  23. 3 points
    I just can't see how guest riders will ever stop new people coming through the door, unless of course they are told how terrible it is by an existing fan. It may well be a problem that costs the sport some existing fans but it's hard to see a way it can be resolved. Smaller teams will mean more riders sat on the sidelines waiting to race however they aren't going to wait forever they will retire from Speedway and race something else weekends. In fact the use of guest riders could be treated as a positive by explaining they are necessary because of how dangerous the sport is and how often teams are hit by injury. To me the racing is as good (and bad) as ever but the show has gone backwards if anything. They have tried to sanitise a sport that should be celebrating it's dirty, dangerous and aggressive side. People want to be entertained every minute of the evening now so something needs to be happening between races and while grading. Doesn't have to cost anything much, a local kids Trials club putting on some demos, the local cycle speedway club having some races on the back straight, local bands and so on. For those tracks that can use the centre green a cycle Speedway race between each heat is a natural fit I've always thought. I'm sure there are lots of other things people could suggest. But most importantly make the Speedway entertaining, everybody pretends to be horrified by crashes and punch ups but the sales of the crashes and cock ups videos are always much higher than any other and a punch up always sees a good crowd not only the following week but next time that team visits too. The sport is having all it's natural spectator appeal stifled.
  24. 3 points
    Decent drills don't come cheap!
  25. 3 points
    I'll have to read the piece in full later today before commenting but his throwaway line (used as a pull quote) along the lines of today's racing being much better than it was in the 60s, 70s & 80s certainly raised an eyebrow here. He obviously never saw PC - to name just one - in his prime.
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