By Henry Chard
Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches promoter Chris Louis says that clubs are all pulling together following the delay to the start of the 2020 British speedway season.
On Tuesday the BSPA announced that the start of the new campaign would be delayed until 15th April due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic as the government advised to stop non-essential contact with others, stop all unnecessary travel and to avoid social venues in a bid to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“The decision at the point on Tuesday when it was made by the board of directors was taken out of our hands,” said Louis. “A lot had been said by the government on the Monday and we had to act accordingly. The 15th April is a one-month delay to the start of the season, and it will be monitored daily up until that point and we hope that we will be able to start then. Of course, should we not be able to, we will provide an immediate update.”
Louis says that the association still plan to run a full season if the action begins on 15th April, but that plans are being made should there be a further delay.
“That planning is underway now and a lot of that is being worked on, so we will be able to react quickly to the changing scenario as it happens. We hope that it will not be a shortened fixture list because should we resume on 15th April, we still anticipate running a full fixture list, but we will know nearer the time.”
The promoter explained the impact that the delay would have on the riders financially but added that everyone was raring to go when the 2020 season does begin.
“It is a loss of income and it is particularly hard for the riders because this is the time where they have invested most money. This is the time when they spend probably half of what they spend during the season preparing for a new season. To have done that and to be immediately told you have no way of earning that back means you are facing quite a tough time.
“It was good to get together earlier this week, but it would have been nice to have been able to do it in the usual fashion inviting guests, sponsors and the press. It was pleasing that the lads wanted to get together, they had a good time and spoke a lot about the coming season and the current situation but more about what they are looking forward to. They were all fit and well prepared and it gives us reason to look forward to the season however much it is delayed.”
With many fans of the sport worried about the long-term impact the coronavirus will have on speedway, the former British champion said that all clubs are looking out for each other at this difficult time.
“It is hard to have words of comfort because it does not take a rocket scientist to know that it is a worrying time for everybody in every walk of life, not just sport. Yes of course, the leisure and entertainment sector is probably a particularly tough one because it is the first thing that people cut out. We have been told we can’t actually run our businesses, so it is a tough time. We know our fans are going through an equally tough time with their own businesses or jobs.
“A word of comfort with regards to our sport is that we are communicating, we are all pulling together, working together and looking out for each other and as a sport we are going to do all we can to make sure that we are able to come to tapes not only this year but the following year.”
The former world number three stressed that everyone has a part to play in preventing the spread of the virus and getting back to normality.
“It is a stressful time for everyone, there is concern for your families, particularly older parents and grandparents, we are all looking out for those guys. We have just got to follow the advice given and hope that in doing that it sees the country get back on its feet again and back to normality sooner rather than later so that we can go about our normal lives again. We all play a part in that.”
Louis also addressed the concerns of those who have purchased season tickets for the new campaign.
“Should it be deemed necessary to shorten the fixture list, an appropriate refund will be made to season ticket holders.”