OFFICIALS at the Coventry Bees speedway team are hopeful the club could return to Brandon later this year after it was announced yesterday the Bees would start the SGB Premiership season in Leicester.
Fans of the Bees finally discovered the fate of their club on Sunday (January 29) morning after a statement released by SpeedwayGB confirmed the Bees would not be starting their league campaign at their historic Brandon home.
Though the Bees remain on track, the move has prompted a mixed reaction from fans – with many publicly stating they are not willing to travel the additional 29 miles to watch their team race.
Bees will continue racing on their usual Friday night slot.
The first fixture of the season is scheduled for Friday, April 7, when the Bees take on Kings Lynn – though this fixture is yet to be confirmed on the SpeedwayGB website.
The club’s statement reads: “Coventry Speedway are pleased to confirm they will be competing in the SGB Premiership this season.
“The winter has produced an unprecedented series of circumstances which have required extensive and detailed negotiations, involving several parties.
“With Brandon Stadium currently unavailable, agreement has been reached for the club to begin the 2017 season with home matches to be staged at Beaumont Park, Leicester.
“It must be stressed that this is for the full Coventry Bees team to race under their own name, on their regular Friday race night, whilst Leicester themselves will continue to operate under their own promotion.
“Numerous options have been considered over recent weeks, but promoter Mick Horton and Coventry Racing Club chief Avtar Sandhu remain determined that the club will return to Coventry at the soonest possible opportunity.
“Work is continuing in this respect but with the need to secure the future of the club of the utmost importance, we would like to place on record our thanks to all parties who have helped facilitate this temporary arrangement.”
Bees promoter Mick Horton said: “We had to find a solution which enabled the club to survive whilst the negotiations continue to bring us back to Coventry.
“That is going to involve us racing some meetings at Beaumont Park at the start of the season, and I must place on record my thanks to Leicester for their co-operation.
“We are rivals on-track but they have been more than helpful throughout, and I won’t forget that if they ever need a favour in return!
“My thanks also go to the BSPA for their support and understanding of these difficult circumstances, and for allowing us to race at Leicester, and also to Cllr Michael Stokes and Rugby Borough Council for their continued assistance.
“It is well documented that Mr Sandhu and I have had our differences in the past. These are behind us; we are both passionate about the Bees and we are both determined for this interim arrangement to work with the ultimate aim of a return to Brandon as soon as possible.
“It is a relief to us all that we will be able to take to the track this season with our seven riders who have had to cope with so much uncertainty over the winter.
“I must also say to our supporters from a personal point of view that it has been frustrating to be unable to provide them with more information at times, and I hope they can respect that.
“We have been working round-the-clock to ensure the club can continue but the nature of our talks have had to remain confidential.
“It goes without saying that this arrangement can only be successful with everyone working together – management, sponsors, supporters, everyone involved.
“I know racing at Leicester for the time being is going to present some difficulties to supporters, I understand that, and we will be looking at various measures in an attempt to make things easier.
“We all realise it isn’t going to be straightforward, but this club is too big to just let it fold. That most definitely could have happened during the winter, and we’ve kept on working to ensure that doesn’t happen.
“We’ve now got to have everyone backing us to make it work, and to prove that we were all right to save the Bees.”
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