Sheffield Tigers rained off in disastrous start to speedway season

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Tigers co-owner Damien Bates admits the start to the season has been a disaster for the sport.

Almost 30 meetings nationwide have been cancelled in the last three weeks and Sheffield saw their Championship opener washed out.

Better weather is on the way next Thursday when closest rivals Scunthorpe head to Owlerton.

But the sport in general has taken a battering from the elements with many clubs losing vital revenue over the Easter weekend when they were banking on bumper crowds.

Bates, on the top table of the British Speedway Promoters’ Association, said: “I’ve never known anything like this, it’s bad news for Speedway throughout the country,” he said.

“It’s been a disaster. Clubs are feeling the pinch without a doubt. Here at Sheffield we aren’t too bad, we’ve only had the one postponement and that was against Peterborough.

“The weather is the major driving force behind this sport, but when it’s against you it’s a real problem.

“We all put our teams together and do our very best to promote our clubs, but when you have rain offs it hurts.”

“These are big body blows for clubs and I have to sympathise with every promoter right now,” he said.

“Our chairman of the sport who runs King’s Lynn has seen his two meetings postponed, it’s terrible.

“Here at Sheffield we made an early decision against Peterborough because there was no drying weather and safety comes first for the riders.

“We had taken a lot of rain over the last week and there was no way we could get the track ready so we made the decision early to avoid inconvenience. There’s nothing worse than a crowd standing in a stadium wondering whether it’s going ahead – we need to put confidence in people coming along and spending their money.”