BSPA can’t afford for speedway fans’ enthusiasm to be dampened
- Credit: IAN BURT
A deluge of criticism was always inevitably going to come raining down on the Poole Pirates last night.
After King's Lynn Stars made their second failed attempt to ride in Dorset this week, the club's supporters flooded social network sites to bemoan a second rain-off in four days.
On Twitter, @TopTungston wrote 'great to see they covered the track' while Lynn rider Kenneth Bjerre even chipped in himself with a 'I see the dog track is nicely covered up'. Yesterday's postponement topped off an embarrassing week for Matt Ford's big-name outfit.
Yet while Poole, the champions of Britain let's not forget, have made two attempts to get racing underway, the real blame lays elsewhere. And that's at the door of the British Speedway Promoters' Association (BSPA).
While those in power can of course do little about the weather – or Poole's inability to prepare a raceway – they could surely have done more to prevent what is becoming a farcical end to the season.
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Lynn's home leg was delayed by almost an hour as the excellent and widely-respected track craftsman Buster Chapman managed to save a drenched oval. Eventually, the racing was worth watching, but initially it had been the patient and loyal fans who suffered most on the night – although Lewis Kerr, now sidelined with a broken wrist after crashing, might beg to differ.
Vital money may pour into promoters' coffers as a result of Sky Sports' deal to screen the Elite League. But it would be foolish to forget that it is the supporters who are the lifeblood of an already struggling sport. They part with their hard-earned money to be entertained. And for half of the first semi-final clash between Lynn and Poole they didn't see one bit of action that could be classed as racing.
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Many travelled 200-plus miles to Poole on Monday, despite the poor forecast, to cheer on their beloved Stars only to return out of pocket having not seen, heard or smelt even one engine revving up. Riders' safety came first as it always should but it doesn't take away the disappointment and anger many left Wimborne Road feeling.
Thankfully – it appears – many fans decided not to traipse back down to Dorset yesterday. Perhaps they couldn't get the time off work? Maybe they couldn't afford it? Or better still they just knew for sure what would happen – the fixture was going to be a wash-out once more.
Speedway does not function in wet conditions. So why on earth are the BSPA attempting to stage their biggest fixtures of the season in October? While the summer is disappearing out of sight, the same should be said about the 2014 campaign. Had it started just three to four weeks earlier at the start of March rather than the end of it we wouldn't now be going through this ridiculous situation of trying for a third time to get a meeting on.
When it rains now it has little to no chance of drying out. The same can't be said of Spring. With the finals now delayed till later in this month – forcing fans who had made plans for next week's scheduled showcase to perhaps miss the delayed clashes – the abandonments could get worse before they get better.
Even Lynn team boss Rob Lyon admits some fans are starting to suffer from dampened enthusiasm. And with Lynn still standing a possible chance of winning their first-ever top-flight crown, that in itself, is the biggest crying shame of all.