When I was young, I was taken to my first speedway meeting, a thrilling 46-44 win for Peterborough over Poole under the lights. The excitement, the noise and the speed all added up to what was a really breathtaking occasion. Years later and a lengthy spell without going to another live meeting, I decided to take a friend for his birthday. He now absolutely loves speedway and we both attended numerous Peterborough Panthers meetings last season. This shows there are great possibilities within the sport as it can appeal to all ages and a wide variety of sports fans. With what is certainly a keen interest in the sport as a whole, I find myself completely disillusioned with the idea of regularly attending at the Showground anymore. I believe Speedway has failed me as a fan, which paints a scary future for the sport. If it fails to attract and retain people like myself to stay with something that has so much potential, the sport will only head in one direction.
Speedway to me will simply never compete with my passion for football and my obsession with my club, Watford FC. Whilst this will simply never change, the summer months are a great opportunity to capture the attention of sports fans who have in all likelihood never heard of the sport. Getting on to marketing the game shortly, I have a very limited engagement with Peterborough as a team compared to the players at my football club. This is simply because Speedway riders ultimately ride for themselves and their income is heavily related to individual performance. It’s hard to engage with this, as well as having very little consistency within the team.
There are two key reasons as to why, it cost me £18 as a 23 year old for a ticket to watch the first meeting of the season (Premiership Supporters Cup?!). This has completely put me off going this season, I cannot justify going to multiple meetings this season for that price and it’s certainly got to be a barrier for any potential new fans along the way. The price is even more of a mystery when you consider Peterborough let go of Craig Cook and Chris Harris shortly before the campaign for financial reasons. I was and sure like many other Panthers fans, taken in by the hype of the new look line up for the season but after witnessing these types of decisions it appears that there is an amateur approach involved within the club and from what I’ve seen a massive issue from the top in British Speedway.
I think ultimately when Panthers had won the league last season but then lost in the play-offs (with a depleted team) but still got promoted it just alluded to the fact it’s all such a mess.
When you look at the demographics of those in attendance, it’s one of the older generation where Speedway has remained a passion. With so many alternatives for the younger generations, Speedway needs to go the extra mile and it can only look across the City in the case of Peterboroughas to how. Peterborough United FC have introduced a school scheme to gather local interest, providing free tickets to schools. This has already reaped benefits ahead of next season with their attendances soaring. While I am in no position whatsoever to make any firm suggestions in terms of development for the Panthers and Speedway alike, I feel it should at least adopt the same attitude.
Overall I feel like Speedway is hanging on in there. During a number of years I’ve seen no progression in terms of marketing, rises in attendances or interest within the sport in my local area. I know it’s well up against it with a lack of resources at it’s disposal but something needs to change otherwise it could face a timely death.
What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments below!