The day Sheffield Tigers’ owner almost pulled the plug

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SHEFFIELD TIGERS co-promoter David Hoggart has revealed how club owner Neil Machin considered pulling the plug on the club for 2013.

Hoggart represented the Owlerton side at the sport’s annual general meeting and says all efforts to bring costs under control have already gone out of the Premier League window.

And he says the middle tier of the sport in this country isn’t financially viable unless clubs are propped up by extra sponsorship or individual benefactors.

Tigers are run as a self sufficient business with Machin the sole owner with financial interests in the operation.

And Hoggart is warning of a bleak future for the sport in this country.

He said: ““Neil has put 20 years of his life into this club and after last season he was looking at the Premier League and considered pulling us out. The cost of running Premier League speedway far outweighs the return on investment and the business model is no longer viable. It is a situation that has arisen due to the cost of technological advancement and the deep pockets of some club shareholders or owners, who are able to offset their operational losses against other business interests.

“I don’t know of any current Premier League club that has funded its operation from a revenue stream generated from speedway alone” said Hoggart. “I owed it to the riders, our loyal supporters, sponsors, landlords and Neil to do everything I could to keep us operational in 2013 and while I gave every Premier League club clear warning of our difficulties, we did not achieve the sort of cost saving we need to be secure.”

Sheffield finished in the next-to-bottom in the Premier League.