Speedway in March?
On Monday morning I sat down in work disappointed that speedway in Scotland was a wash out. I started to read my national newspaper and in it contained an article in which Glasgow skipper Shane Parker had a moan about only riding in one of seven of his arranged meetings. So the moan was pretty justified, but he went on to say how this happens every year. It got me thinking, Should speedway start (as Shane suggested in the article) at the start of Easter or continue to ride on rain soaked or, in this year's case, snow covered tracks?
I carried out a random research of Speedway in March, I picked two random years, 2000 and 2003. Since speedway usually starts at the end of March I looked at the last ten days of these months. The results of this search shocked me.
In the year 2000 there were 29 arranged meetings, 26 of these matches started and finished, 2 were postponed and 1 was abandoned.
In 2003 the amount of meetings increased to 46 but amazingly all of these fixtures were completed! That means in the two years reviewed 73 meetings were arranged with only 2 being called off and only the 1 being abandoned.
Although the facts and stats don't exactly back up Shane's point, I still think he's right. Why start meetings in March?
As a fan of all speedway I would much rather wait 'til Easter so I can see decent safe racing. Speedway is all about excitement and entertainment and matches being ridden in the middle of March are often not entertaining, mainly because of the weather and the state of tracks at this time of year.
If we wait two or three week tracks will be in better, and safer, condition which will allow for the riders to put on a show, instead of putting newcomers off with follow the leader on an unfit track. It's something speedway can do to help itself in the long run.
But what else can we do?.... Here's my opinion:
Reduce the amount of competitions. In the Premier you have the Premier Trophy, Premier League, the KO Cup and the play-offs, plus three one day competitions (Pairs, Fours and PLRC). What is the point in the Premier Trophy, no one actually cares about it, every team just sees it as a way to get new riders used to the tracks. Start the PL when you would start the PT then see how many teams take the early part of the season seriously!
Instead of the KO Cup speedway should have a FA Cup style competition. There is a lot of romance in competitions like that. Instead of the setup the British league cup had a couple of years ago, let's have the Elite teams at full strength. I mean what if Rye House beat Arena-Essex, It's a one off - it could happen!
I would keep the one day comps as they are great occasions and don't really clog up the fixture list. I also think that the Play-offs are a great idea, keeping teams racing for something to the very end of the season.
This article was first published on 3rd April 2006
"In days gone by the start of the season usually was around the Easter Holiday. Since the advent of teams using numerous Continental riders this has caused a problem of spreading out the season. Often in the height of Summer we have weeks where there is no meeting to attend. The G P System hasnt helped continuity of fixtures either. I agree with the idea of the all-in K O Cup but with double-up being rife and use of guest riders this would prove hard to organise I think. "
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