PLANNING is already underway at the Coventry Bees after the future of the Elite League club was secured this week into the 2017 season and beyond.
Successful negotiations between the leader of Rugby Borough Council, Councillor Michael Stokes, the club and the agent acting for the new landowners (Brandon Estates Ltd) has resulted in a lease offer for the next year, with the possibility of two more beyond that.
With speedway and stock car racing both included in that arrangement, a busy period lies ahead – but it is a challenge that Bees owner Mick Horton says he will relish.
He said: “We’ve had 18 months of stressful negotiations, there’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of good people have been involved.
“It’s a great day for motorsport fans, and speedway and stock cars are all part of the family at Coventry. We are looking forward to all working together next year.
“There are lots of decisions to be made, and lots of planning to do. We want it to work for everyone, and I’ll be inviting all sorts of ideas from fans of both sports to take us forward.
“We’ve got to look beyond next season – we’re very confident that we’ll have an extension for a further two years, and securing our future beyond that is going to involve the council and the community.
“We see it as potentially three years in which to sort our future out, and in due course I will look to hold some kind of Forum, because I have some big plans in which I want to involve everyone, both speedway and stock car supporters.”
Bees skipper Chris Harris echoed the words of Horton and is confident he will be sticking at Brandon beyond the 2016 season.
“As a Coventry rider I’m delighted with the news and I’m sure that approach applies to all speedway riders too,” said Harris.
“Credit to the owners, management and council for sorting out the deal and hopefully a further two years can be added onto the offered lease.
“I’ll have to wait until the end of the season to find out if I will be racing for Coventry next season, there’s so many complex rules in the sport you can never put your finger on where you’re going to end up riding – though I would like to continue racing for the Bees.”
On-track results have not met expectations this season with Bees sitting second from bottom, ten points away from the play-offs with four home meetings remaining.
Horton says putting a strong team on-track next year will be a top priority, although full plans for that cannot be made until league structures are finalised.
“It’s unfortunate the way the season has been going,” Horton added. “Although I’d like to think the entertainment has been top-drawer at Coventry, which is reflected in the crowds we’ve had for our last couple of meetings.
“Next year is another year and top of my priorities will be to get a winning team. The Bees deserve a winning team, and it’s my job to make sure we build a team that’s going to challenge.”