Spectators essential if speedway is to get back on track says Sheffield’s Peter Mole

Peter Mole, right.Peter Mole, right.
Peter Mole, right. | User (UGC)
British speedway is in a good position but racing behind closed doors is not an option, according to Sheffield Tigers co-promoter Peter Mole.

As sports across the country look to re-emerge from the current health crisis, the financial structure of speedway could make it difficult for the season to quickly restart.

“Talking for myself at Sheffield – and I think this is true of every track in the UK – racing behind closed doors would not be an option at all,” said Mole. “Our income is turnstile takings, sponsorship and programme money – and that’s it.

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“Because we don’t own the stadium, we don’t get any takings, bar takings or food takings. They obviously go to the stadium itself which is fair because they employ all the staff to support those areas. British speedway, certainly for Sheffield, but I assume in general, it isn’t an option riding behind closed doors.”

However, while clubs may not be bringing any gate receipts at this moment, they also do not face major financial outgoings. Thus speedway does seem to be in a pretty strong position compared to other sports.

Mole added: “The majority of teams rent the track on race nights. Other clubs own the stadium and they have got fixed costs going out. With ourselves at Sheffield, we rent the stadium. Although we have rider assets, all riders are essentially self-employed. They get paid on what they earn. The more points they score the more we have to pay them.

“Our meeting costs are stadium rent, which is a big cut of it, and riders’ wages, which is a massive amount. We then have other fixed costs such as St John’s ambulance, paramedics, officials, referees, any insurances we pay to riders. We’ve got marketing costs, programme costs. Not running, we’re not eligible to pay those costs.

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“Financially, we haven’t got the fixed act going which a lot of other sports such as football do. Their players are retained and paid a salary. We don’t have that so that puts us in a good position. Although that isn’t true with everyone. Some have got outgoings if they own the stadium.”

With crowds a big part of the sport’s financial structure, it may take longer for speedway to resume. Nevertheless, that same structure does seem to provide a lot of stability for a sport looking to return to the mainstream.