25th Sep, 2018

INTERVIEW: 'We need a new home,' Bees owner Mick Horton reveals 'ongoing' efforts to save world-famous club

Shaun Reynolds 3rd Feb, 2018 Updated: 3rd Feb, 2018

EFFORTS to bring the world-famous Coventry Bees back to the city are ongoing, according to the club’s owner Mick Horton.

Fans of the Bees have been starved of speedway racing in Coventry for 15 months after a multi-party dispute involving Coventry Stadium owners Brandon Estates, CoventryStox, and Mr Horton resulted in the closure of the venue for 2017.

Supporters were dealt another blow when the British Speedway Promoters Association (BSPA) axed Bees from the Premiership after it had been agreed the club would race at Leicester to keep the name alive.

The decision by the BSPA meant, for the first time since 1947, there was no top flight speedway racing in Coventry.

Since then, Bees have been accepted into the National League – the third and lowest tier of British Speedway – and will this year race their home meetings at Leicester’s Beaumont Park.

But a long-term stay at Leicester isn’t part of Mr Horton’s plans, he says.

He told the Observer that he wants the club to source a new home in the Coventry or Rugby area, and revealed he’s in ongoing talks to make this possible.

“I want us to have a new home in the Coventry area,” said Mr Horton.

“It’s easy to point fingers, but I can’t keep doing that. I must focus on going forward and to keep the Bees racing.

“There are all sorts of permutations – a new stadium could take years, it’s subject to land availability, what support we get from both Coventry and Rugby councils.

“I am working with both councils regarding a piece of land, it’s ongoing.

“But I have no idea what’s going on with Brandon Estates’ planning application, my focus is on our racing in the National League.

“Yes we’d love to go back to Brandon, for me we need to be racing in the Coventry or Rugby area.”

Bees owner Mick Horton.

Despite having ambitious plans to return the club to the city, Mr Horton admitted he has ‘no idea’ how long Bees will be racing at Leicester.

When quizzed about the financial challenges the club will face moving forward, the Bees owner said: “I’ve got my own money in it and we’ll have money from rider assets too.

“Because we haven’t got a home I can only afford to run in the National League. I’m hopeful and confident die hard Bees supporters will want to come and support the team.

“I have budgeted to subsidise this season. When we raced in the National League at Brandon we had two teams, and understandably people wanted to watch the first team.

“But now we’ve got one team – and I do believe fans will come along to see what it’s all about.

“This season will be a challenging one. We’re in the dark and I don’t know what to expect.”

The Save Coventry Speedway campaign group raised Bees’ fall in Parliament in November.

He also said he’s had no correspondence with Brandon Estates. But he did say he’s in regular contact with Coun Michael Stokes, leader of Rugby Borough Council.

Mr Horton said: “Coun Stokes has been very supportive and the advice he’s passed on has been so valuable.

“He would love to see us back at Brandon or at a new venue, that’s our long term aim.”

Our campaign call outside Coventry Stadium in March attracted a huge gathering of supporters.

And when asked to provide a message to Coventry fans ahead of the new National League season, Horton said he and the club must take things one step at a time.

He added: “I can’t change what’s going on at Brandon. I have no influence.

“All I can do is work with both councils.

“It’s so hard. I can’t sit on the fence and hope something will happen for us. And we can’t still be at Leicester in five years.

“We have to have a new home. I share the fans’ frustrations.

“All I can influence is what happens on the track. For those riders putting the jacket on, they need your support.

“It’s going to be difficult for us, but we’ve got to take one step at a time.”

The glory days: Former boss Alun Rossiter celebrates with fans after winning the Elite League playoff championship in 2010 at Poole.

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