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topsoil

End Of An Era?

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Well if that was to be the last Elite League meeting on Sky it has been a rather ironic way to end. Firstly a rain off then a meeting which will be overshadowed by the national football team. I'm unsure exactly when the Sky TV coverage started (was it late 90s?) but what does the sport have to show for around 15 years of TV coverage?

Here was a chance to increase the profile of the sport, a chance to give sponsors nationwide exposure, the sport was to get a healthy financial backing.

But what followed was a lack of investment in youth, a lack of investment in stadia, a lack of investment in track equipment, track covers, safety fences. The money it seems was spent on signing on fees, flying a select few in and out of the country and faster machinery which requires constant upgrading.

Each year seems to lead to the same questions, which tracks will be running next year? will the points limit be reduced? Each year the product is watered down, the fans pay more to see their teams, there is a general lack of certainty about the futures of each club.

Unless you are very close to the promoters nobody knows for sure how much TV money was actually pumped into the sport over the years. Sadly because of the structure of each team (basically a limited company) that information and much more, rider wages, income from attendances and sponsorship etc. will never be seen.

Which brings me to the core of the problem.

Each "team" is effectively owned by a promoted, who set up a limited company. This is done basically because it is easier for a company to write off debts. This needs to be ended and follow the Swedish model where teams are run as "clubs". The members appoint people to run the club, these people are responsible to the members and are put up for election each year. Therefore if they do not run the club properly they are replaced. The club do not outlive their means. Budgets are set and stuck to.

Other advantages to "clubs" are that local councils are far more likely to give support. This was evidenced a few years ago when Workington Council were prepared to support a new stadium for football and rugby league clubs, but not speedway because this was run by an entrepreneur for their own profits. Government funding is also far more available to clubs and associations.

There also needs to be an independent body to run the various leagues. At the moment the promoters run their own show, decide their own rules.

Thankfully there are some bright signs. According to Speedway tar this week both Coventry and Redcar are running junior league meetings. Northside are doing a cracking job with the training rack and a few tracks such as Kings Lynn, Leicester and Scunthorpe run regular training sessions. Hopefully more tracks will learn from this.

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Regarding the previous post - too long to justify as a quote but extremely interesting and well thought out: The salient point in speedway is to run tracks as clubs and not as business promotions. :approve:

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