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Time to have an enquiry into the death of Speedway

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Ben91 said:

Out of interest, when do people think the decline in British Speedway started? My personal opinion is that for as long as I’ve been a fan (20 years), the sport has been on a downward trajectory. Would it be fair to suggest things started to go south after the last world final at Wembley in 1981? 

For me, it started to decline when 'England' stopped ruling the Speedway roost at international level..

The TV companies and tabloid press lapped up (no pun intended), the way England regularly won Best Pairs and World Team cups, and obviously in Peter Collins had a dare devil young hero that transcended the Speedway world and was amongst the most well known sportsmen in the country. Not only winning a World Title, but doing it in a way that showed just how exciting and breathtaking the sport can be..

Then, towards the late 70's and early 80's the UK started training up many Danes and Americans in particular to take over their previous World Champion mantle..

All of a sudden, there wasnt quite the same coverage given to USA and Denmark victories by the mainstream media, (and why should there be?)

However, instead of focusing on getting back on top of the pile by having a detailed, fit for purpose training plan to provide young English riders with the opportunity to  progress, the authorities instead then opened up the 2nd Division to foreign riders which allowed them to train up even more nations' riders, who took up team places that young British riders used to have..

And finally as we hit the 90's winning at club level became all that mattered with Promoters trying desperately to get one over their fellow promoters by ensuring that their team was best.

Completely ignoring the blatant fact that league title wins for Poole, Wolves, Belle Vue, Coventry etc etc etc had not one jot of positive impact to the sport nationally amongst generic sports fans and national media..

And had lessening yearly impact to even die hard fans when they considered the often 'Mickey Mouse' operating model that facilitated the winners' victory..

Hence winning at club level became all encompassing so clubs filled their teams with journeymen foreign riders, who would then throughout the season get replaced by even more journeymen foreign riders when averages dictated.

And would also every now and again unearth a foreign 'wunderkind' on a ridiculously low entrance average which would provide that team with a 'fourth heat leader' at reserve, which would decide so many matches in their favour..

However, the team with the next '4 point superstar' may have cared about their victorious season , but hardly anyone else did..

In short, it's been a crap operating model for nigh on 40 years and if your intention was to promote your sport positively to millions of the nation's sports fans then it was as wide of the mark as it possibly could have been..

However, looking at the work being done around the young talent that's out there now, maybe, just maybe, the penny has finally dropped and a successful 'Great Britain' team will soon be regularly back on the top step of international meetings, with all the extended coverage from the wider sports media it will bring.

In Woffy and Robert Lambert the country truly already have two who can compete at the very top, which can only help enormously to start generating wider interest in the sport if they get publicised well..

However. Four or five other World Class riders in the top 20 would certainly add to the publicity the sport gets, and can only have a positive knock on impact to the domestic leagues and their teams..

Edited by mikebv
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Very interesting to see the replies are all in a similar ball park with regards to when things started to go wrong. It’s safe to say that we’ve been in a decline for almost 30 years then. That’s almost a third of the time Speedway has existed. 

I’ve always seen the World Cup as being a bit crap personally. Perhaps because we have never looked remotely like winning it while I’ve been a fan. It is interesting to note what Mike says above about us losing publicity when we stopped being a force internationally however. Has the ship sailed too far for us to ever become a force again unless by some minor miracle two or three exceptionally talented Brits come along and grace the same generation.

It can’t be a coincidence that our best two riders (Woffinden and Lambert) currently cut their teeth in Australia and Germany respectively. Our representative in the GP challenge, Adam Ellis, did likewise in France I believe? 

It appears that we are beginning to show some promise with a few younger riders. But is that because they are better than what we’ve churned out before or is it because Denmark, Sweden and Australia aren’t turning out riders of the same standard they used to? Poland could have the monopoly on the sport completely soon enough. That could lead to the sport dying in a lot of other nations and then they’d be shooting themselves in the foot. 

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1 hour ago, mikebv said:

For me, it started to decline when 'England' stopped ruling the Speedway roost at international level..

The TV companies and tabloid press lapped up (no pun intended), the way England regularly won Best Pairs and World Team cups, and obviously in Peter Collins had a dare devil young hero that transcended the Speedway world and was amongst the most well know sportsmen in the country. Not only winning a World Title, but doing it in a way that showed just how exciting and breathtaking the sport can be..

Then, towards the late 70's and early 80's the UK started training up many Danes and Americans in particular to take over their previous World Champion mantle..

All of a sudden, there wasnt quite the same coverage given to USA and Denmark victories by the mainstream media, (and why should there be?)

However, instead of focusing on getting back on top of the pile by having a detailed, fit for purpose training plan to provide young English riders with the opportunity to  progress, the authorities instead then opened up the 2nd Division to foreign riders which allowed them to train up even more nations' riders, who took up team places that young British riders used to have..

And finally as we hit the 90's winning at club level became all that mattered with Promoters trying desperately to get one over their fellow promoters by ensuring that their team was best.

Completely ignoring the blatant fact that league title wins for Poole, Wolves, Belle Vue, Coventry etc etc etc had not one jot of positive impact to the sport nationally amongst generic sports fans and national media..

And had lessening yearly impact to even die hard fans when they considered the often 'Mickey Mouse' operating model that facilitated the winners' victory..

Hence winning at club level became all encompassing so clubs filled their teams with journeymen foreign riders, who would then throughout the season get replaced by even more journeymen foreign riders when averages dictated.

And would also every now and again unearth a foreign 'wunderkind' on a ridiculously low entrance average which would provide that team with a 'fourth heat leader' at reserve, which would decide so many matches in their favour..

However, the team with the next '4 point superstar' may have cared about their victorious season , but hardly anyone else did..

In short, it's been a crap operating model for nigh on 40 years and if your intention was to promote your sport positively to millions of the nation's sports fans then it was as wide of the mark as it possibly could have been..

However, looking at the work being done around the young talent that's out there now, maybe, just maybe, the penny has finally dropped and a successful 'Great Britain' team will soon be regularly back on the top step of international meetings, with all the extended coverage from the wider sports media it will bring.

In Woffy and Robert Lambert the country truly already have two who can compete at the very top, which can only help enormously to start generating wider interest in the sport if they get publicised well..

However. Four or five other World Class riders in the top 20 would certainly add to the publicity the sport gets, and can only have a positive knock on impact to the domestic leagues and their teams..

The demise of "World of Sport" was a major factor in my opinion...although not probably seen as that at the time. The likes of Briggs, Mauger, Collins etc were names that many outside of the sport had heard of as they plied their trade on national TV.

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1 minute ago, steve roberts said:

The demise of "World of Sport" was a major factor in my opinion...although not probably seen as that at the time. The likes of Briggs, Mauger, Collins etc were names that many outside of the sport had heard of as they plied their trade on national TV.

That's why I said what I did earlier. You can't blame any single time or event; it was a collection of events over a period of several years.

While British speedway has constantly shot itself in the foot, and the authorities have failed to stop the bleeding, there are a number of factors that cannot be blamed on speedway itself.

1) The demise of greyhound racing. I'm not venturing any personal opinion on the sport, but we have relied on it, particularly where the GRA were the landlords.

2) The ever-increasing NIMBY population who have been largely responsible for driving a very visible and easy-accessible city-centre sport into the rural wilderness.

3) Tied in with number 2), the desire for redevelopment, which has had a detrimental impact on many sporting venues.

4) The fact that for whatever reason, speedway just isn't "cool" anymore...

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Woffinden's world title wins have done nothing to drag British speedway out of the doldrums. The odd TV interview and the occasional mention in the tabloids is all that was achieved. Some might credit him with pushing the current youth project, but not riding in the country of his birth has definitely hindered the sport.

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Therein lies the juxtaposition between clubs balancing the books and wanting a winning side. So this is my question, why do clubs need to balance the books? As long as promoters go into the sport with their eyes open, then what is the problem.

If you look at the clubs who have closed over the last few years, how many have done so because the promoter has simply run out of money and no one wants to take it over compared to teams who have been forced club due to stadium availability or other reasons?

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whats happening at the third level is good but there is a definite block to progress at the second level which has become far too strong. 

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The 80's were that last peak and that peak was filled with mostly Americans who were flamboyant and sold the sport and the Danes who were marketable and professional.

By the late 80's the rot set in and despite a few positive times that feel-good factor has never returned.

The GP formula moved the power outside of the UK and many will still yearn for the old WC format, starting in Australasia early in the calendar year, rounds in dozens of countries culminating in a final in UK, Sweden or Poland. 

Sky came along, threw previously unseen sums at a cabal of around 10-12 Promoters and they did the drinking equivalent of peeing it up the wall.

Paying over inflated sums to average riders from various parts of the Globe, NOTHING was put back in to the grass roots of the sport.

The recent move to take Team GB and GB Academy away from the clutches of the BSPA, staffed as it is by a majority who to this day want to stuff their teams with foreign riders at every opportunity, is a positive first step.

Woffinden and Lambert now lead the fight back, we can but hope that Ellis and Bewley can join them and then hope that the likes of Brennan, Flint;Rowe and Kemp can step up and attain those levels, behind them the likes of Palin, Edwards, Thompson twins etc.

There is a glimmer on the horizon but still the nagging doubt that the idiots at the top table will do everything they can to look after the interests of their own small circle before they look outside the window and see the bigger wider picture.

The Sport is ruled by the equivalent of the flat earth society, in complete denial of the real speedway world.

Painter, Blackwell, Sinderson, Cotton, Adrian Smith (speedway fans but also successful businessmen prepared to put their hands in their pocket for the sport and not their own ego;s).....let them take over the Sport, run it with independent governance and line promoters in to them, not Godfrey and his cohorts.

 

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, steve roberts said:

The demise of "World of Sport" was a major factor in my opinion...although not probably seen as that at the time. The likes of Briggs, Mauger, Collins etc were names that many outside of the sport had heard of as they plied their trade on national TV.

Interesting how the names of the riders were very well known yet their domestic teams were seldom mentioned..

Many is the time when I mention Speedway that the response is the usual "I used to go", but the next line invariably only mentions certain riders they remember, with any mention of where they watched their Speedway very much a secondary consideration.

Almost like the teams they watched were very much secondary to who they were watching ride..

I would suggest a similar apathy to team racing that exists today for many fans who just go along now to watch 'the racing' rather than having any large emotional stake in the outcome of the match..

Yet promoters have for a great many years tried desperately to put one over their rivals to be 'successful', using all sorts of various wide and wonderful ways too numerous to mention, but we all pretty much can name them..

They, at least, seem to still take it all seriously, but sadly, by their very actions, no one else can..

And no 'team sport' can ever be successful if you don't have any emotional attachment to the team you follow..

Sort that and maybe UK Speedway could start to rise again..

Edited by mikebv
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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, mikebv said:

Interesting how the names of the riders were very well known yet their domestic teams were seldom mentioned..

Many is the time when I mention Speedway that the response is the usual "I used to go", but the next line invariably only mentions certain riders they remember, with any mention of where they watched their Speedway very much a secondary consideration.

Almost like the teams they watched were very much secondary to who they were watching ride..

I would suggest a similar apathy to team racing that exists today for many fans who just go along now to watch 'the racing' rather than having any large emotional stake in the outcome of the match..

Yet promoters have for a great many years tried desperately to put one over their rivals to be 'successful', using all sorts of various wide and wonderful ways too numerous to mention, but we all pretty much can name them..

They, at least, seem to still take it all seriously, but sadly, by their very actions, no one else can..

And no 'team sport' can ever be successful if you don't have any emotional attachment to the team you follow..

Sort that and maybe UK Speedway could start to rise again..

My work colleague and best mate had no interest in speedway and never attended a meeting to the best of my knowledge but was aware of Barry Briggs.

Edited by steve roberts

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We can go on all day about the state of British Speedway. In my opinion I don't think it will ever be the same again in this country after effectively being closed down this year. I think possibly having Nicki Pedersen and Jason Crump back in the league plus being on Eurosport would have re-generated interest to the outsider but we will never know. I do think the biggest threat now to British speedway though is not the donkeys who run the sport but the lucrative price of land for housing and political correctness. Does speedway really make money? With regards to housing you may have noticed in the news this week the Government has pushed through policy making it easier to obtain planning permission for housing. If a stadium owners is offered big bucks by a housing developer for his land will he or her take it? If you were offered millions of pounds it would be hard to turn down. As for political correctness this refers to Greyhound racing which obviously affects most speedway tracks in the UK. The leftie brigade want Greyhound racing abolished. The way things are going its only a matter of time before they get their way. With no income from that and the lucrative bookmaker streaming services the owners will cut their losses and sell. 

British speedway needs to re-invent itself as a team sport and fast. The die hard fans in their 60's and 70's will not be here forever and I don't see any way of attracting  the instagram generation to take their places the way things stand. I've said this before and been laughed at but how about setting up two "franchise" teams to compete in the Polish League? Manchester Aces, Sheffield Steel, Glasgow Tigers?? Could be marketed to a whole new audience. Has worked in Super League and other sports. 

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1 hour ago, JamesHarris said:

We can go on all day about the state of British Speedway. In my opinion I don't think it will ever be the same again in this country after effectively being closed down this year. I think possibly having Nicki Pedersen and Jason Crump back in the league plus being on Eurosport would have re-generated interest to the outsider but we will never know. I do think the biggest threat now to British speedway though is not the donkeys who run the sport but the lucrative price of land for housing and political correctness. Does speedway really make money? With regards to housing you may have noticed in the news this week the Government has pushed through policy making it easier to obtain planning permission for housing. If a stadium owners is offered big bucks by a housing developer for his land will he or her take it? If you were offered millions of pounds it would be hard to turn down. As for political correctness this refers to Greyhound racing which obviously affects most speedway tracks in the UK. The leftie brigade want Greyhound racing abolished. The way things are going its only a matter of time before they get their way. With no income from that and the lucrative bookmaker streaming services the owners will cut their losses and sell. 

British speedway needs to re-invent itself as a team sport and fast. The die hard fans in their 60's and 70's will not be here forever and I don't see any way of attracting  the instagram generation to take their places the way things stand. I've said this before and been laughed at but how about setting up two "franchise" teams to compete in the Polish League? Manchester Aces, Sheffield Steel, Glasgow Tigers?? Could be marketed to a whole new audience. Has worked in Super League and other sports. 

How many tracks are affected by greyhounds now - a genuine question, not wanting to contrdict you!

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7 hours ago, HGould said:

The recent move to take Team GB and GB Academy away from the clutches of the BSPA

unfortunately, i don't think it's as cut and dried as you make out

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2 minutes ago, stevehone said:

unfortunately, i don't think it's as cut and dried as you make out

Maybe you could enlighten us??

 

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2 hours ago, Skodaman said:

How many tracks are affected by greyhounds now - a genuine question, not wanting to contrdict you!

Good point to be fair. Off the top of my head though there is Sheffield, Swindon, Wolves, Birmingham, Kent, Newcastle & Poole so 31.8% of all operational tracks in the UK

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