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hulvik

Thank you Sky for nothing

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Back in the 80’s when nobody had heard of the internet and Gary Lineker didn’t know what a bag of crisps looked like. Football was mainly played on a Saturday afternoon and kicked off at 3pm. Rugby league was traditionally played on a Sunday. With Speedway raced most nights of the week with each club having their own race night and all was well in the world of sport.

Then on 5th February 1989 a little known company called Sky launched its Television network onto the TV airwaves and the decline of British sport began. To begin with things didn’t go well for this young broadcaster and by the end of 1990 it had been forced to merge with its main rival BSB who were also struggling in a bid to survive. But this set back didn’t put Sky off its ambitions of ruling the TV airwaves when it came to sport.

When the top flight of English football broke away from the Football League thanks in part to the promise of higher TV payments From Greg Dyke and ITV Sky saw its chance and took it. Bidding a massive £304 million, it beat ITV and in doing so football was removed from free to air TV and put on Sky Sports which promptly became a subscription channel.

But in taking the money football forgot the golden rule

“Those with the gold make the rules”

With a large TV schedule to fill Sky soon began demanding value for its money and the result was the weekly ritual of Saturday afternoon football through out the country became a thing of the past as games began to be played at other nights of the week. Kick off times were moved to fit Sky’s needs, and with the promise of even bigger payments for TV rights every 5 years the top flight of football lost political control of the game. But the decline didn’t stop there. With player power growing ever stronger since the mid 70’s thanks to Jimmy Hill,the top sportsmen began to demand even bigger salaries until it came to a point the top clubs have to make sure they reach the later rounds of the big tournaments and the TV rights money that comes with it just to pay the wage bill of the players that get them there. At the same time those clubs that fall out of the top tier end up struggling finically and selling their best players just to stay in business

Having witnessed this downward spiral you’d have thought other sports would have been more careful in their dealings with Sky. But no the promise of instant wealth for the big clubs is too tempting and one by one sports have queued up to take Sky’s money. All giving up on their traditions, lower league clubs and fan base just to pander to Sky

Rugby league’s top division went from being a winter sport to a summer sport (How anybody can call February and March summer is beyond me) and changed club names to give them more razzmatazz in an attempt please the broadcaster. Just so Sky had something to show during footballs closed season. Sky even proposed that some clubs merged to form regional teams with the result that clubs like Hull, Hull K R , Castleford, Wakefield trinity, Warrington and Widnes would be lost forever. But this idea was so unpopular with the fans it was dropped. But as you witness the sceptical of a largely empty stadium on the televised Thursday night match, you have to ask yourself what good did taking Sky’s money do for the sport as a whole.

So when it came speedways turn to suckle at Sky’s teat you’d have thought the powers that be would have been a little more careful. But no once again the lure of Sky’s money was too much and speedway as made the same mistakes as every other sport that signed the deal with the devil that is Sky. The top clubs braking away to form their own league, tradition nights changed, top sportsmen demanding even higher wages. These things sound all too familiar?

Speedway is facing major problems yet the proof that these woes faced the sport if they signed the deal with Sky was there for all to see. I accept that speedway was in decline long before Sky came onto the scene and this decline can be traced back to the 50’s and the advent of the Entertainment tax. But it can’t be denied that the situation as got worst since the TV deal was signed. And as we moan the closure of yet another track we have to ask ourselves 2 questions

How many other sports in this country will go the same way as speedway thanks to the lure of big money from Sky and BT Sports?

And looking back was the original deal really worth it?

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3 minutes ago, PHILIPRISING said:

YERS, very much so. Before speedway found a place on TV, the vast majority of people in this country thought it had long since died. Sky brought speedway back in front of many. Admittedly, the majority didn't also visit tracks to see the sport live but you can hardly blame Sky for that.

The money Sky poured into British speedway was never well spent. It largely went to fund rider payments and never to improve the infrastructure of the sport. Cannot really blame Sky for that either.

British speedway had a great opportunity to build on the exposure and platform provided by Sky but didn't do so. Personally cannot see how Sky can be blamed for the demise of domestic speedway. They don't create the product. 

Exactly. Sky's coverage gave the sport the ideal opportunity to invest that money wisely and grow the sport. They can't be blamed for the failure to do so.

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10 minutes ago, PHILIPRISING said:

YERS, very much so. Before speedway found a place on TV, the vast majority of people in this country thought it had long since died. Sky brought speedway back in front of many. Admittedly, the majority didn't also visit tracks to see the sport live but you can hardly blame Sky for that.

The money Sky poured into British speedway was never well spent. It largely went to fund rider payments and never to improve the infrastructure of the sport. Cannot really blame Sky for that either.

British speedway had a great opportunity to build on the exposure and platform provided by Sky but didn't do so. Personally cannot see how Sky can be blamed for the demise of domestic speedway. They don't create the product. 

Spot on, Sky is the devil in many ways but with regards the deal it gave speedway there is only one at fault and sad to say it was us 

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Not sure what planet you are on, or whether you've just copied and pasted the opening post from another source..

The downward spiral of football since Sky? lmao. Seriously?

Then you try and cite a Thursday night Rugby League game as proof that has also had a downward spiral? Rugby League attendances are higher now than they were pre Sky.

Absolute nonsense article/post.

 

 

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Back in the 70's, in my late teenage years, I used to go along to watch the Reading Racers at Tilehurst.

When that closed I moved onto other interests, mostly moto cross and getting on with other things in life and a career that saw a move to Sussex.

In 2004 I upgraded my TV and got a Sky subscription, and by chance scrolling through the channels, came across speedway.  Remembering that it was a decent spectacle live, I recalled there being a team at Eastbourne so checked it out and have being going, through thick and thin, ever since.

So, yeah, you could say Thank You Sky for getting me back to speedway.

As everyone else has pointed out though, the failure to use their money wisely isn't their fault is it ?

 

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Can anyone tell me a Sport that Sky have got involved in that has not thrived other than Speedway,  

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The promoters spent the SKy money like you did when you were young, wasting your last few shillings because you thought tomorrow was another payday.

 

I recall the excitement I experienced when news broke that Sky was going to cover live speedway.  The first few years there seemed an upturn in the sport's profile. The Duguard-Anderson incident at Eastbourne made it big in The Sun, I believe. I don't think it helped the relationship when meetings began being called off and SKY had gone to all the expense of setting up the equipment. The ELRC at Coventry about five years ago was the last straw, I think, from the view of this supporter, who knows there are so many last straws. 

Edited by moxey63
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41 minutes ago, PHILIPRISING said:

YERS, very much so. Before speedway found a place on TV, the vast majority of people in this country thought it had long since died. Sky brought speedway back in front of many. Admittedly, the majority didn't also visit tracks to see the sport live but you can hardly blame Sky for that.

The money Sky poured into British speedway was never well spent. It largely went to fund rider payments and never to improve the infrastructure of the sport. Cannot really blame Sky for that either.

British speedway had a great opportunity to build on the exposure and platform provided by Sky but didn't do so. Personally cannot see how Sky can be blamed for the demise of domestic speedway. They don't create the product. 

I agree completely, especially the bit I've highlighted.  Riders have been running the sport for too long now - it was never that way.  Even some in the third tier make a nice tidy sum out of the sport.  The business model has to work and if wages are too high then lower them - if that means you don't get so an so in the team then so what.  Promoters should be able to make money - if it was my business that would be my goal.  You could even make their payments linked to crowd size/revenue generated - some may want to  then spend more time engaging fans to try and get more through the turnstiles.

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23 minutes ago, Argos said:

Can anyone tell me a Sport that Sky have got involved in that has not thrived other than Speedway,  

ice hockey, basketball,  rugby league, especially below Superleague level, rugby union, county cricket .... although it all depends on your definition of thrived. If you mean clubs loading up with debt to pay spiralling wages in the hope that TV will keep throwing money at it then no sport, including football, has thrived - although some do get bigger crowds at the top level than pre-Sky

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8 minutes ago, moxey63 said:

I'd begin to lack any confidence in a single promoter who year upon year states he has lost money.

... name me one premier league football club, premiership or superleague rugby club or cricket club that has not lost money year on year, despite huge injections of TV cash. Why would speedway - with a much lower fanbase - be any different?

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33 minutes ago, George Dodds said:

 

ice hockey, basketball,  rugby league, especially below Superleague level, rugby union, county cricket .... although it all depends on your definition of thrived. If you mean clubs loading up with debt to pay spiralling wages in the hope that TV will keep throwing money at it then no sport, including football, has thrived - although some do get bigger crowds at the top level than pre-Sky

Another living on a different planet.

Rugby Union has not thrived? 

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Just about everyone - perhaps bar the OP - agrees that it was the Speedway Promoters themselves that did not make best use of the Sky Money when it was flowing into the sport freely. And that some better choices should have been made to 'invest' for the future.

But this oft repeated criticism that it was wasted by just being given to the riders needs a little more scrutiny surely.

I think it's true that it did go to them and then to engine tuners and travel costs etc. But isn't that how WE wanted it spent at the time, if we are honest.  Didn't we all want to our own club to pay the money to the top guys to have them in our team in those years.

Wouldn't we have all voted with our feet back then in even greater numbers sooner if the big money was not spent on a strong team like they rest?

If we had a big TV deal starting today isn't the first thing we would want it spent on is getting Tai, Emil, Freddie and the rest back ASAP.

I think we are just being a bit 'holier than thou' when we scream at the promoters today for doing what really was our bidding then.

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15 minutes ago, George Dodds said:

... name me one premier league football club, premiership or superleague rugby club or cricket club that has not lost money year on year, despite huge injections of TV cash. Why would speedway - with a much lower fanbase - be any different?

Well, let's look at accounts for year end 2017. Name one Premier League club... I'll go more..

Here are the ones who made a profit:

Arsenal, Bournemouth, Burnley, Everton, Hull, Leicester, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Stoke, Swansea, Tottenham, Watford, WBA, West Ham  

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