Everyone associated with Eastbourne Speedway are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of long time fan, Director and Team Sponsor Les Fineing.
All at the club send out thoughts and condolences to all family and friends at this very sad time.
Everyone associated with Eastbourne Speedway are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of long time fan, Director and Team Sponsor Les Fineing.
All at the club send out thoughts and condolences to all family and friends at this very sad time.
Everyone at the Eastbourne Eagles are very saddened to hear of the passing of Sarah Holt this morning.
Sarah, the partner of Martin Dugard, and the mother of Tom and Ellie Brennan and Ben Reade, was an incredibly brave lady.
We send all of our thoughts and condolences to all of Sarah’s family and friends at this sad time.
It is unlikely that Eastbourne Speedway will be running in 2022, but we are excited to announce that plans are in place to return to ‘Fortress Arlington’ for league racing in 2023.
The BSPL has agreed to re-issue Trevor Geer with his Promoters license, based on the fact he had nothing to do with the financial instability that the club suffered this season.
Trevor has a team of people helping him to rebuild and raise the funds required to run in 2023.
People have already come forward pledging support both hands on and financially and this is more than welcome.
To that end, any suggestions, offers of help or any other comments you would like to make, please email email@example.com
Please do not use this email address for any enquiries relating to the 2021 season.
Over the coming months we will be looking to be more active on social media, update the club website and carry on working behind the scenes, to bring this amazing club back to track, not just for 2023 but well beyond that.
Club representative Mark Horsman commented:
“It is a disappointment that we can’t run in 2022 but the club will return in 2023. Chris Louis and the BSPL have been a great help to us and with the backing of stadium owner Eric Dugard and the new management team, a bright future is in place for the club.”
Long-serving ‘groundsman’ at Arlington Stadium, Roy Prodger, has died.
He was a familiar face to Eastbourne Speedway fans for decades as Bob Dugard’s trusted No 2 when it came to track preparation.
You would see him driving tractors, raking and generally helping ensure the track was as perfect as it could be. Roy at one time was senior clerk of the course and even dabbled in his days as a rider.
His duties at Arlington Stadium went far beyond Speedway nights as he was responsible for the team which kept the premises maintained, prepped and looking good for the next event, whether it be Speedway or stock cars.
There seemed to be hardly a day when Roy was not at the stadium, even after he officially retired.
If you were first to a meeting, Roy would be there and he would be there long after every fan had gone home to bed.
Trevor Geer said: “Roy had been part of the fabric at Arlington Stadium for as long as anyone can remember and this is very sad news for everyone linked to both Eastbourne Speedway and Arlington Stadium over many decades.
“Roy was working regularly right up until very recently for Speedway and Stock Cars and we’ll all miss his cheeky smile and his ability to always find the right key from a ring of about 200 of them, plus much much more.
“He was a great track man in his day and worked closely with Bob – and what a formidable team they made.”
Everyone on behalf of Eastbourne Speedway and the Dugard Family send their deepest condolences to Roy’s family and friends at this time of their sad loss.
Eastbourne Eagles Ltd Director, Ian Jordan, has sat down with journalist Paul Watson to answer questions about the club’s withdrawal from the 2021 Championship season.
Paul: Eastbourne Eagles Ltd took over the promotion of the Speedway at Arlington for the 2019 season. How successful was that and what position was the club in to start 2020?
Ian: We started really in November 2018 when Martin and Connor decided to step down as the NDL at that time looked like it was going to be a much weakened League. Jon Cook and myself were asked to take it on and we did, with Jon focussing on Speedway and myself on the Business. It cost around £20,000 to set that up and that was all my investment. Jon built the team and negotiated all of the deals with the riders and we started off well.
By late May 2019 it became clear that following a decision to also run Arlington Stadium with Martin that the relationship of Jon being a Director of the Speedway Company (Eastbourne Eagles Ltd) and our Landlords (Arlington Stadium Limited with Martin) was not really compatible, both in his workload nor his focus.
Jon resigned as a Director of Eastbourne Eagles Ltd and in came Les Fineing, who has subsequently made a significant financial investment, together with more investment from Chris (my partner) and myself.
Jon continued to be paid by the club until the end of the season as per our agreement and his salary of around £25,000 is the only significant non-rider cost we had or have had.
The season went well in terms of crowds. We had a high of 1,300 (which I am told was the highest for many seasons) and four other crowds over 1000. We had a budgeted break even of around 800-850, which remains to this day.
Allowing for the fact that we had all of the initial set up costs and Jon’s salary to cover, we would have made a small net profit but for those and, therefore, without either cost being required in 2020 looked ahead with a degree of confidence.
Losing the KOC semi-final by four points on aggregate with Georgie Wood unfairly, in our opinion, banned for issues in the NDL was a financial blow as I think a KOC Final at Arlington in October with a full team at the time could have easily seen our biggest crowd of that season.
We sought to retain six of the team on similar deals to 2019 and based on the events of 2019 felt reassured and confident.
We did spend around £6,000 on digital advertising in shopping centres in Eastbourne, Hastings and Brighton. That was probably the biggest commercial mistake we made as it delivered nothing and we were indebted to Mike Stance for providing numerous poster sites around the Sussex Coast, that definitely had a bigger impact.
We had some great work done by the Community Team with Dave Rollison, Paul Garnell; Kate Ferguson and Josh Langley-Fineing and others doing a great job and that attracted around 3,000 new or returning visitors and together with the excellent work of Ian Smalley and yourself, Kevin and John Ling, Ken Burnett and others, a media and website package that was the envy of many.
We had some amazing Sponsorship support from Fineprint; HG Aerospace; Robins Of Herstmonceux; Turner/V8 Engineering and some wonderful and innovative work from Lee Capon of Marstons/The Holly Blue and many others.
Every bill was paid by the end of October and every rider had been paid each week and in full by a week after the end of the season.
I can’t think of many who would disagree that we left 2019 with great and positive momentum and goodwill.
Paul: The Covid-19 pandemic began just as we were getting ready for the 2020 season and it wiped out the whole year for the club. What sort of season could the Eagles have looked forward to in 2020?
Ian: It may be a surprise to many when I say that in some ways Covid saved us in 2020. That may seem outrageous and a crazy comment but the facts are that due to circumstances beyond our control, had Covid not occurred we would have had to withdraw from the league for 2020 and put the licence on ice, as Glasgow did and as Somerset and Swindon have done subsequently.
The issue was with the stadium and its certification. That tends to run from spring to spring. The Stadium did not have the required certification to start the season for Stocks or Speedway. It required a massive financial Investment by Eric and Margaret Dugard during 2020 to update various key parts of the infrastructure, especially a complete electrical rewire.
I think everyone involved with Speedway and Stock Cars should be incredibly grateful and appreciative of that investment, especially as it came during the greatest economic and global pandemic period in decades if not centuries.
The Stadium was not available for Speedway at any time in 2020, should we have been able to race
I think the BSPL were quite surprised when we told them about this a few weeks ago, so it was probably a blessing we did not have to disclose it.
Prior to that we had had a good winter with around 150 season / 10-match batch tickets sold. We had a great sponsorship deal from HG Aerospace and from Turner/V8 Engineering and we were in the process of negotiating other deals when Covid hit in late January / February and into the first lockdown in mid March.
Indeed, having been over to Eastbourne in early February and having caught and probably infected Trevor (Geer) with what was a horrible and debilitating 2-3 week flu-like virus, we’ve both thought since then that maybe we did have Covid ourselves.
The timing of the first lockdown though was too late to stop us from spending significant chunks of the income we had gained on rider contracts and fees, vans, BSPL/SCB payments etc and a whole host of other necessary bills and expenses
We could not get out of contracts for things like Card Readers and other equipment like new Radio mikes.
That in hindsight filtered in to 2021 in terms of financial stability.
We also sought to support riders financially through 2020 where and when we could as clearly they were in a situation where massive income streams were cut off through Covid throughout the year.
As we were tenants of a stadium and had been trading for less than three years we did not qualify for any Government Sports or Stadium Loans.
As we had no employed staff, it meant furlough was not an option.
The BSPL fought tirelessly and ultimately successfully to get a £300,000 grant but, for the reasons stated, we did not pass the criteria test.
It was quite amusing to read social media at the time where there were assumptions that all Speedway clubs had been given £300,000 to flourish – if only.
That £300,000 was the total of the grant. It was great work for BSPL to get it and for those clubs who benefitted very welcome, I’m sure. In a nutshell, in terms of any Government or Sports Council assistance we got diddly squat.
Paul: In those circumstances, would the Eagles have ever come to tapes this year?
Ian: When I said Covid probably saved us, the paradox is that it probably did. We’d have had to pay back all season ticket monies and the sponsorship we did have before lockdown as opposed to the very generous position, due to Covid, where almost all was carried over thanks to the good grace and understanding of Sponsors and Supporters.
We would effectively have had to start again this Spring in a far worse financial climate than a year before and with very restrictive lockdown restrictions that weren’t actually fully eased until mid July this year.
The team would undoubtedly have been broken up had 2020 happened and with us having to withdraw, they would have needed to ride in the CL in 2020 and it would have been a very different septet that would have started in 2021 and with a genuine shortage of riders I think our side would have been far less attractive.
We fought tooth and nail to retain the 1-7 from 2020 to 2021 as it was as many wanted a reduced points limit, so with no work permit options available at the time, who knows what kind of side we could have built?
Paul: This year began under tight Covid-19 restrictions. What effect do you think the cap on numbers had? How many fans would you have hoped for when Poole came, for example?
Ian: We knew we needed 800 to 850 and were delighted in many ways when Barry Johnson managed to secure a limit of 1,000 just before the first match. We had around 1,000 for the first match, around 925 for the Kent match and we then saw a decline to around 800-850.
So, I don’t think the cap on numbers had a massive impact.
What did have a big impact was the requirement to wear masks and to strictly segregate. I think that for the first few matches it was a novelty, everyone was delighted to be out.
Very quickly though there was negativity from some supporters across social media about why they had to wear masks and some even wanted to mount campaigns and complaints to council and Government.
The fact is that the only way we were allowed to run was due to masks and segregation.
As part of the segregation, we had to utilise Stock Car security teams as they were compliant with all of the required compliance and believe me there were thousands of pages of the stuff.
They did a great job in the context that they were there to ensure no regulations were broken and were monitored closely by the council. Again, had they not been there to do that we could not have run. Massive credit must go to them and Barry for the work done.
Unfortunately though, the wearing of masks and the imposition of what some thought was over-draconian security was not popular.
I think we lost support in the period between early June and mid-July as the novelty of being out watching Speedway and the frustration of having to wear masks and being told what you could and couldn’t do, led to frustration and a view that it may be best to wait for all restrictions to be eased.
There were added costs and regulations in the pits area too and, all combined, it meant that much of the enjoyment of the occasion both inside the inner ring and outside in the stadium was hard to maintain.
Paul: What was the financial position under the Covid crowd restriction regulations?
Ian: Here’s the great paradox of where we’ve arrived at and I think discussed at the time.
By mid-July we had seemed to have weathered the storm. We weren’t making any money – I don’t think anyone will make money this season and most don’t ever make money.
Indeed, I’ve been told many times that Eastbourne never made money, it would regularly lose tens of thousands per season. It was kept alive by the incredible patronage and support of the Dugard Family.
However, we were broadly up to date with payments to riders and other bills at this point.
We were acutely aware that there was no season ticket safety net (largely used to cover 2020 and early 2021 costs) and, despite more excellent and much appreciated new financial support from George and Michael at HG Aerospace, other anticipated revenues were not forthcoming.
This was due to the ongoing and long-term impact of Covid on the national and global economies and the ravages of Brexit too.
Indeed, I well remember Lee (Kilby) and I spending a week in Eastbourne prior to the season with a plan to visit sponsors and new contacts.
Basically everything was still CLOSED. You couldn’t get a hotel room even unless you were “an emergency worker” and places like Knockhatch, the Skate Park and Brighton and Hove Albion Community programme, who Ken Burnett had done great work attracting in early 2020, weren’t even open for us to visit or contact properly.
We’d also begun to have issues with the NDL team. We’d entered the NDL to secure and attract assets and at the time expected a season starting at Easter in early April and running to the end of October.
The late decision to add further Lockdown to effectively lose the first 6-7 weeks and start on May 22 was effectively our NDL season in terms of weeks to matches.
Had the season started on time we’d have coped with NDL seamlessly. We tried double headers and after some adverse feedback from some Staff and some supporters we were asked by the Stadium Management to stop them which we understood and complied with immediately.
So, by the day before Covid restrictions finally eased on Monday, July 19, we were starting to feel the pinch.
Paul. When did you notice that the crowd figures are beginning to drop?
Ian: We’d been OK up to and including Glasgow at home in early July, although that was by no means the bumper crowd we had anticipated.
Due to the truncated season, the original plan, which we spent many hours on tuning in the Spring to have the potentially bigger fixtures in Summer – and to avoid all clashes with the Grand Prix series – fell by the wayside.
The SGP dates changed and continually changed, the ability of other clubs to stage some fixtures changed so in the context of who were we going to ride and when, started to look like the perfect storm.
The crowd for the Leicester double header the day before all restrictions eased although decent was probably 200 below expectations and affected by intense heat and moans about dust and double headers.
Frankly the crowds against Scunthorpe (when crowd pullers like Adam Ellis and Tom Brennan were missing at a quickly arranged FIM Event) and Plymouth (when Jason Crump was missing as he failed a late fitness test) were awful.
Both were impacted by bad weather in the vicinity too and although as always our weather expert was SPOT ON and it didn’t rain at the stadium, actual crowds of around 550 were frankly calamitous.
I’ve seen the question asked “Where did the money go?”
Given that as we have always said that around 90-95% of a Speedway club’s income and turnover comes through the turnstiles, I think it would be more appropriate to ask “Where’s the money coming from?
We don’t have large corporate backing being behind us, clearly supporters are not coming in sufficient numbers and for a wide ranging number of economic reasons, sponsor and advertising budgets simply aren’t there at the moment in many sectors.
Paul: Why do you think people didn’t come?
Ian: I can only make educated guesses. Bad weather in the area does stop people from coming, however hard we’ve tried to reassure them. We’ve had three rain offs; two called very early and one on the morning of a match and two cost us £1,500-£2,000 in prior set up costs.
We had originally planned in the Spring to avoid clashes with the Speedway GP but in the end we couldn’t. Each clash generally costs us 100 fans. There is clear evidence of that fact from 2019. I’ve never understood it and long stressed how dangerous it could be to us.
As a Saturday track, occasionally a Sunday track, we suffer from being in a tourist location but not really benefiting from it. SATURDAY is invariably “change over day” and SUNDAY is effectively the first day on holiday day, and as hard as we try, visitors don’t see Speedway as an arrival/departure day attraction, nor a first day attraction.
Ideally, we would like to race in midweek like Plymouth, Poole and the Isle of Wight do.
Midweek is very unpopular with our core support. However, Thursday is reserved for the Premiership, Tuesday is allocated to Kent and Plymouth and from June to September there are Stock Car fixtures every Wednesday at Arlington.
As well as Stox being a bigger money earner than Speedway, there is a very labour and time intensive two days to erect and dismantle the safety fence. So, we are hemmed in really to Saturday and Sunday.
The other and most unexpected outcome of restrictions easing is that a number of tracks, and especially us, seem to be seeing lower crowds post restriction than pre-restriction.
The only logical answer is that rather than Speedway being one of a small number of options, it’s now deep in a pile of options that people have not enjoyed for 16 months and who now want to embrace while they can . . . so back to the perfect storm analogy.
We’ve also been unable, until the end of July, to think about distributing the 65,000 FREE Under 12 Passes we had planned for the 2020 Community Programme and as tourist information and other outlets only fully opened from July 19, it’s been incredibly difficult to optimise plans there too.
Ultimately, we also have to look at the product and how the Sport is viewed, how it’s promoted and how we promote it. I’m proud of what we did in 2019 and just deeply frustrated that all of that momentum was lost.
Paul: The fixture list seemed to end up with the Eagles riding away but not at home. What impact did that have?
Ian: The impact is as we have already discussed. 95% of income comes from home gate receipts. When crowds are much lower than expected it has a massive impact.
We have not had a home match since July 31. Since then we have ridden at Kent and Leicester and had faced trips to Newcastle, Berwick, Newcastle and Birmingham. That series of six matches would conservatively cost around £25-35,000.
The home match v Birmingham on August 7 was called off early due to an awful and ultimately accurate weather forecast.
That saved us some preparation costs and it’s also relevant to point out that on the Wednesday before Birmingham had their “make or break fixture”, so we could not be sure what would happen to them. It’s fantastic that they seem to be in better shape now and the same sentiment applies to Newcastle.
We did chat to Brummies and agreed that calling that match when we did was the best move for us and them. It gave them breathing space and would have been rained off whenever we’d have called it.
The Berwick home match, that had been originally due to take place on August 15, was cancelled about four weeks before that. It was nothing to do with our financial position but down to the late arrangement (once restrictions were eased and confirmed on July 19) of the biggest Banger Meeting of the year on August 14.
That takes absolute priority over Speedway and we fully understand that transitioning from one sport to the other in 24 hours is physically impossible.
It is also worth mentioning that we were thwarted in staging a Team GB Under-23 fixture that would have taken place on July 10. That’s a meeting we had worked on with the GB set up for well over 12 months and would have been a great occasion for us and our young riders like Tom, Drew and Jason.
Unfortunately, despite initially having a protected spot on our fixture calendar, it was removed following an objection from another Promoter, which came at a very late stage in the process.
So, with some late payment to riders and others starting to manifest from late July onwards, due to the very poor crowds in late July, the scenario was looking bleak and as a result we flagged it up to the riders prior to the Kent match on the August 3 and to the BSPL a week or so later.
At this time, some expected revenues did not materialise and so the position really did worsen very quickly from the last week in July and projecting into the future.
Paul: Could Eastbourne not have staged a “call to arms” meeting in a similar way to that what was done by Birmingham and Newcastle? The Redcar fixture surely was the one to do that, but it was called off.
Ian: It would have been great to have been able to do that with the Birmingham match or had the Berwick meeting had still been on the schedule. We asked if we could miss the fixture at Leicester but were told we had to fulfil it.
We met with the BSPL Management Committee on August 16 and outlined fully our position and a plan forwards. When the Management Committee came back to us with what was required to continue in the short term we were unable to comply with their requests.
As a result the home meeting against Redcar could not be staged. We were clear that this could have been our “make or break meeting” but sadly it was not to be.
In fairness too, there was some inclement weather about on the day of the match and a televised football fixture kicking off live on Sky at 5.30pm between Brighton and Watford, would, we know, have meant us being without some key staff and probably a significant number of Brighton season ticket holders and fans amongst our supporter base too.
It probably sums up recent luck that this clash should happen
We had arranged our northern tour for August Bank Holiday. Those matches were cancelled without us being notified by the BSPL and we only found out from the clubs themselves and fully understood and appreciated their need to arrange matches.
We had no latitude anyway to have home matches on August Bank Holiday as there is always a long standing Stock Car Event on Bank Holiday Monday and Saturday Bank Holiday Crowds at Arlington are invariably poor with counter attractions and often debilitating local traffic putting possible ‘walk-up’ support off.
Paul: Were there no other investors available to give the club a cash injection to see through the season, even if it was only at Championship level?
Ian: We have guaranteed “asset based” Director-provided investment from me, coming and due in mid September to fund all liabilities. That is part of a process that takes four weeks on average to happen and the option to put a card in the wall and fund the Club with ready cash from Directors’ pockets once again to the amount required simply wasn’t there.
Once the position was known we had contact from a few serious investors and a whole host of offers from Supporters and to set up Go Fund me type schemes.
A couple of investors were happy to issue short term loans against our “proof of funding” and we could have taken any number of smaller amounts or the offer of a Crowd Funder being set up.
For reasons I will cover in one of your next questions we decided that it would not be ethical or proper to take those offers and we have explained openly and transparently to all who have contacted us directly as to why, and in every case been thanked for being straightforward with them.
Those conversations for obvious reasons must remain confidential from our side but if any who contacted us wants to validate them, that’s totally up to them
Paul: Was the 2021 team “too expensive”, was the budget too bullish and what was the break even attendance figure?
Ian: The honest answer to all of those questions in hindsight is clearly “YES”.
Hindsight though from the end of 2019 could never have foreseen I suggest what has happened in 2020 and 2021.
The team was signed based on 2019 deals and with the addition of Drew on an identical deal to Jason. We were considered to be in the higher echelon of payers in 2019, but also seen in the very higher echelon of prompt payers too.
The break even attendance figure in 2019, 2020 and 2021 was 800 to 850.
Hindsight being hindsight we should have re-negotiated in the winter of 2020 and reduced 2021 contracts. The initial deals weren’t done by me in 2019 but the failure to act prior to 2021 sits with me, is accepted and full responsibility taken.
Paul: Were there other factors that led in the end to Eastbourne being expelled from the league?
Ian: As I mentioned before in terms of “investment” there was another factor.
When we spoke to Investors after the Leicester match and before Friday, August 20, we had to be brutally honest and tell them that they would not be buying the current product, but a probably weakened and reduced product.
We had to be honest with them and were and we had to be honest with ourselves in accepting that even with investment coming in, we would certainly have incurred further losses via a weakened team, more supporter unrest and a toxic atmosphere that was already manifest in a small but vocal minority on social media and via some personal messages to management.
The fact is we could not and did not allow anyone to invest or to start any funding process on the basis of a weakened team, possible further losses as a result and increasing levels of rumours and abuse.
At the Leicester meeting, one of the team signified his desire to leave and another had signified his intention to retire, although he may still be available to ride for someone else.
We had an open and honest conversation with all of the team present and outlined plans. At that point the rest of the Team were willing to remain.
However, when we weren’t able to stage the Redcar match at home, which would have guaranteed us as a Club and the riders some income from that meeting and to start to repay amounts owed, another Rider requested to leave.
We actually tendered our resignation to the BSPL on Friday, August 20, as a result to give optimum time for the riders to try to get fixed up elsewhere and I’m happy to say that following long and protracted information gleaning and passing between us and the BSPL that this has happened prior to the transfer deadline day.
There may be a silver lining to these decisions in the future
Paul: What would you do differently if you could turn back time?
Ian: I wouldn’t have made some of the mistakes made and for which I take full personal responsibility and apologise for.
I think in life the only people who don’t make mistakes fall in to two categories, people who don’t do anything and people who won’t take responsibility
I am blue and yellow to the core, love the club, we have (together with Les) invested significant sums for no return.
To see Eastbourne Speedway close will hurt many great people, I have to bear personal responsibility for that, it will always hurt. Thankfully, I have very good people around me to offer support, particularly in dark moments
Hindsight says I should probably have turned down the opportunity when offered. There was no one else willing to take up the baton and the joy of 2019 and early 2021 make it worthwhile and hopefully elongated Speedway at Arlington.
I / We would definitely have reduced the wage bill in early 2021 but in mitigation to the riders, their costs are so high that they would have been more in relation to their earnings. The vicious cycle between costs and earning in Speedway has to be addressed and it has to start with costs.
Many other things were simply beyond our control.
Maybe we tried to run before we could walk, were too ambitious , tried to achieve unachievable goals….
One allegation in the past few weeks that has hurt more than anything has been of “being in hiding”.
Whilst we have been in conversations with the BSPL we have respectfully followed their request for confidentiality. During that period Trevor and Lee and Les have worked tirelessly together with myself, we certainly haven’t failed for the lack of effort in recent weeks nor over the past few years.
Paul: In hindsight, was running a National Development League team this year a mistake?
Ian: Again in hindsight yes, but had we have had a full season and a team including Knight, Atkins, Andrews, King, Abiltt, Vinnie, Slick, Danno and Chad plus the likes of Joe Alcock, I’m sure we’d have won the league with the optimum seven and had some great fun.
Commercially it all stacked up too when scoped in March.
Circumstances starting with Henry dislocating his shoulder and subsequent events we could not have envisaged turned it into something of a nightmare.
Paul: You have said Eastbourne Eagles Ltd is not going into liquidation at present and people who are owed money will receive it? Does this mean the riders will get their wages? What about fans with season tickets and who have pre-paid for tickets and merchandise?
Ian: Yes, the plan is to have everything sorted by the end of September:
Match tickets refunded;
We’re in process this weekend of contacting Season Ticket Holders / 10-Match Ticket Holders to offer pro-rata refunds if they want them;
All other creditors are and will be contacted by early September too.
It’s a lot of Admin so please bear with us.
Paul: There have been persistent suggestions that the club owes a large debt to the stadium owners. Is that correct?
Ian: Categorically NOT.
I have seen figures of £50-60,000 bandied about. This seems to have started by a keyboard warrior on the Speedway Updates site on Saturday, August 14, although it may have been started prior to that. It seems to have been taken as fact.
The reality is that our current rental deal commenced at the start of this season and is paid directly to the Stadium Owners. In 2019 we paid the Stadium Landlords (Arlington Stadium Ltd) who were our Landlords and the managing company of the stadium. All 2019 Rent was paid and accounted for by September 30, 2019
We have staged seven events in 2021 and the core rent is £1,000 per meeting plus VAT.
On that basis alone, at £1,200 per meeting, including VAT, then we would be owing 41 meetings. That is around two-and-a-half seasons of Speedway.
Any rumours of the debt being quoted, or even a substantial fraction of it, or us being refused permission to use the Stadium on that basis, are absolutely incorrect and based on the factual sums quoted are beyond the imagination of any responsible person.
Apparently, there are other rumours but we can only answer what we are aware of and I think the majority will agree that to give reply to some merely gives oxygen to the people who perpetuate them.
Speedway does seem to attract such rumours and Arlington is perceived as a hotbed for them.
It reminds me of a call from one of the team a month or so back who’d been told he was being replaced by an overseas star, probably from one of the sources of many of the rumours, I don’t know.
It didn’t take long to reassure the rider that the name mentioned could never replace him, not that we wanted to any way as his average was way too high and would have needed a work permit that we didn’t have access to either.
Q. Is it then you intention to close Eastbourne Eagles Ltd only when it is in a debt-free position?
Ian: Yes, once everything is paid, everyone is satisfied and all is sorted we will follow the due legal process to close the Company and do a full audit and accounts.
Paul: Your answers to the last two questions indicate there is a cash injection coming. Could not that have saved the Eagles’ season?
Ian: The reality is that at the moment the Club is cash poor and that the injection comes from a financial asset that will take a number of weeks to fulfil.
Anyone with financial assets as individuals will know only too well of elongated form filling, various compliance and ID checks, the obligatory hurdles to make sure that you wish to realise part of an asset and then the wait for the transfer or cheque.
With the time period and number of matches it is a case that neither the Governing body nor us could find a solution to that time-span, nor would we accept interim funding for the reasons specified in terms of the weakened product and high probability of further losses being incurred.
I guess it is a case of being in a hole you can see a way out of but not risking to dig a bigger hole you may not be able to get out of and not wishing to involve anyone else in digging a bigger hole.
Paul: Fans have commented about statements made by the club in recent days not being “open and transparent” as they would have hoped and have become used to. Why was that?
Ian: As I have mentioned, that has been particularly hurtful.
The reasons are simple and as already mentioned and down to confidentiality of negotiations with BSPL, possible investors and without exaggerating 14-16 hour days trying to find solutions.
The fact is only on Thursday, August 26, could we comment and as you know Paul already radio and newspaper communication has been done and I must thank you and Ian Smalley for breaking your holidays in the last few weeks and now to report what we have been able to report
Paul: To your knowledge, is there any hope for Speedway at Arlington in 2022?
Ian: That’s outside of our jurisdiction and totally up to the Stadium Owners initially.
The BSPL / SCB would then need to approve any new company and promotion.
As mentioned, we have suggested to potential investors that they may wish to see starting afresh in 2022 as preferable to shoring us up in 2021.
Anything we can do to leave behind what assets we may have in terms of even a small bit of equipment and also maintaining and paying for some level of web and social media presence we’ll gladly do.
There are moves within the Sport to focus on costs, wages and the product and nothing would please me more than to see Eastbourne take to the track in 2022 and for many years to come.
As I stated, I can only apologise for what’s happened and to thank everyone for their support and will watch from completely outside of the Sport now and wish everyone well.
I’m finished with Speedway completely, having cut my Speedway ties with Plymouth before the season started to avoid any conflict of interest with Eastbourne and to focus there solely on non-speedway events at the Devon Arena where Mark Phillips and I have plans to run a Community Event Arena under a separate Company to Speedway.
The Eagles Co-Promoters Trevor Geer & Lee Kilby will provide additional updates in the following days.
We are very disappointed to confirm that we will be withdrawing from the remainder of the 2021 British Speedway season.
We have tried all avenues open to us to resolve our previously documented and relatively recent cash-flow issues.
Despite some very generous offers by individuals and organisations, we have not been able to reach a satisfactory solution in a realistic timescale.
As a result, we have asked to withdraw from the Championship and NDL.
We would place on record our thanks to the BSPL Management Committee for their co-operation.
We acknowledge and respect the issues that this will cause other clubs.
We would like to thank all of our riders, staff, sponsors and supporters for their support.
In respect of our Supporters and Sponsors:
We will be contacting all Supporters who have purchased tickets for future events and memorabilia linked to those events to arrange refunds or fulfilment of items purchased during today. The message will be sent to the Ticket Purchaser.
We will also be contacting all season and ten-match ticket holders to arrange pro-rata refunds of pre-purchased tickets before the weekend.
If you will bear with us in this significant administration task and wait until you hear from us in the next 48 hours, it would be appreciated.
Those who have already contributed financially to the 2022 Air Fence Fund have already been contacted and refunds are being processed where requested and those who have contributed to a “Just Giving” Appeal (which was closed for further transactions a few weeks ago) and which currently stands at just over £400, will be contacted via that Just Giving Portal and will be repaid in full in due course.
The Teambuilder Lottery will run for the final time on September 1 and following pay-out of that we will ask all recurring members to cancel direct debits and standing orders.
Those who have sponsored items such as Race Suits and Heat Sponsorships will also be contacted within 48 hours regarding their investment in the Club and fulfilment of that commitment in terms of memorabilia; and pro-rata refunds for the remainder of the season where applicable.
Eastbourne Eagles Ltd will continue to trade until all financial commitments are paid off in full over the next 4-6 weeks.
The Management Team will make a further, full statement in the next few days.
We have been asked by the BSPL Management Committee not to make any detailed statement today, as we had planned.
We remain in constant contact and communication with the Management Committee and they have requested us to make no further comment while various options and avenues are considered.
Whilst we are sure that this is frustrating for you, our supporters, it is a protocol we have to follow.
Further detailed updates will follow as soon as possible.
A message from the Eagles Co-Promoter Lee Kilby. The club would also like to thank the Stadium Management at Arlington for their on-going co-operation.
Following a statement from the club after the most recent home fixture on the 31st July v The Plymouth Gladiators, expressing concerns about crowd figures, the Directors and Management of Eastbourne Speedway have been working on solutions to resolve cash flow and funding issues, that have affected the club due to much lower than anticipated Match receipts and revenues from mid-July onwards.
We are working with the BSPL (British Speedway Promoters Limited) and the SCB (Speedway Control Bureau) to evidence and comply with requirements going forwards and remain confident of a medium and long term solution.
We are working hard to ensure that late and overdue payments are fulfilled as soon as possible and to secure the immediate future to get us to the end of the 2021 season and hopefully beyond. We are fully committed to honouring all outstanding financial commitments in the coming weeks.
We have been unable to meet a financial deadline request at this time from the BSPL and SCB and have regrettably had to postpone our next planned fixture v The Redcar Bears on Saturday 21st August.
The postponement will ultimately help us with our ongoing recovery plans without risk of any further deterioration in our Financial position.
We will refund within 24 hours, the small number of online tickets purchased for the fixture v Redcar.
We expect to make a fuller statement on Tuesday 24th August, regarding future plans.
Eastbourne went down to a heavy defeat at Leicester last night (August 14) losing 56-34.
At no stage did they threaten the home team and ended a five-man team.
Edward Kennett missed the fixture because of a reaction to a Covid-19 vaccination and Kyle Newman withdrew at the half-way stage after further aggravating a shoulder injury.
Co-promoter and team manager Trevor Geer said: “It was tough tonight.
“Coming without Edward Kennett didn’t help. He is suffering after his second Covid jab.
“I hope we can do better things next weekend against Redcar.”
Leicester 56: Ryan Douglas 14, Hans Andersen 12+1, Nick Morris 9, Kyle Howarth 8+1, Zaine Kennedy 6+1, Dan Thompson 4, Joe Thompson 3+1.
Eastbourne 34: Tom Brennan 14+1, Lewis Kerr 9, Richard Lawson 6+1, Drew Kemp 3+2, Nathan Ablitt 2, Kyle Newman 0, Edward Kennett r/r.
Here is how Kevin Ling saw the match unfold.
Heat 1: Richard Lawson gets the drop on Hans Andersen and Kyle Newman looks to have done similar on Dan Thompson. First two bends and it’s all change however – Hans sweeps into the lead and Dan comes past Kyle on inside out of bend two and then puts pressure on Richard for the first two laps but the order doesn’t change – opening 4-2 to the lions; 61.97
Heat 2: Unsatisfactory start. Zaine Kennedy moves first but effectively impedes himself – Eagles holding the advantage into the first bend but red lights come on.
Re-run: Wouldn’t you just know – this time Kennedy sweeps around the outside of all three riders to time to lead down back straight – Drew Kemp putting on the pressure but Joe Thompson just behind him with little distance between all three. Down the back straight of lap three, Joe finds a way past Drew to join his partner for the 5-1, 9-3, 62.81
Heat 3: Kyle leads out of the start but the Lions do like the high line and Kyle Howarth demonstrates this as he rounds our Kyle out of bend 2 – Tom swiftly follows suit and at the end of lap one a 3-3 looks a likely prospect – not with Morris at the back though. He doesn’t give up the chase and trades places a couple of times with Kyle but eases clear on the run in to lap three; 4-2, 13-5, 61.56
Heat 4: Lions lead out of the start with Ryan Douglas in front from Kennedy with Lewi Kerr third. Our captain sweeps past Kennedy on the run down back straight – Lewi has his sights on Douglas and keeps closing but doesn’t quite have the legs (or indeed wheels). Kennedy comfortable in third ahead of Nathan Ablitt; 4-2, 17-7, 62.25
Heat 5: Richard flies from the start and leads throughout to become Eagles first heat winner in a time of 61.06 (fastest of meeting so far) Morris is not far away in second and Howarth holds third but Kyle is clearly not loving the conditions and trails in at the back; 3-3, 20-10
Heat 6: Hans rolls back the years powering to his second win. Lewi tucks in behind him with Drew third – Drew cuts off Dan’s run out of bend 2 and fends him of in impressive style for the full four laps – Dan made last ditch effort on final bend but overcooked it – didn’t fall but this saw Drew secure third; 3-3, 23-13, 62.09
Heat 7: Eagles snatch first heat advantage through a fine win for Tom to deny Douglas. Nathan was close to Joe who suffered an engine failure heading into lap three; 4-2 to the visitors, 25-17, 61.99
Kyle Newman has withdrawn from the meeting after aggravating his shoulder injury. Eagles down to five riders.
Heat 8: A 5-1 to the Lions and fairly comfortably at that. Dan from Kennedy – Drew fell third bend first lap but remounted to finish. Nathan exerting pressure on Kennedy and kept it close but could not prevent the maximum going the way of the home side; 5-1, 30-18, 62.75
Heat 9: Morris clamps Lewi down on first turn. Momentarily it’s a 3-3 but Howarth looks set to come past both Eagles but Lewi manages to hold second. Howarth gives him a good battle for second while Lewi keeps up pressure on Morris – a 4-2 it remains however, 34-20, 62.25
Heat 10: Lewi takes the RR and gates but again Hans storms through gap left on inside as Lewi takes the wide line. Tom comfortable in third ahead of Dan but riders quite strung out for 3-3 – big wheelie from Hans as he crosses the line; 3-3, 37-23, 62.41
Heat 11: Tom comes in as a tac sub in place of Kyle but the heat did not go the way we hoped it might. Douglas led from the off and Joe looked set to join him down the back straight – Tom and Richard remained steadfast in second and third however and as Joe mounted a further outside challenge on bends three and four but parted company with his machine and fell – he was quickly up and cleared the track. Ryan was indeed flyin’ and continued for a comfortable win; 3-3, 40-26, 62.53
Heat 12: Tom Brennan in as the RR. Howarth leads from Kennedy but Drew moves inside and Tom rounds Kennedy in classic pincer moment out of bend two – Tom gives it his all to catch Howarth but can’t quite make it. Drew pegs Kennedy at the back to anchor a 3-3, 43-29, 62.41
Heat 13: Douglas comes down on bend 2 trying to round Richard. Richard was leading but is excluded. The home fans around me seem to think it was a just decision but I had the same view as them but I didn’t see it that way. I’d say harsh at the very least.
Re-run: Lewi gates but both Douglas and Hans storm through on his inside out of bend 2 and race on for the 5-1, 48-30, 61.53
Heat 14: Two races in one. Morris has a grand battle with Tom and it’s a similar story with Joe against Nathan – sadly both battles go the way of the Lions; 4-2, 52-32, 62.37
Heat 15: Douglas from Brennan from Hans – gate to flag, 4-2, 56-34, 62.50. Eastbourne did not put out a rider in yellow
Image credit: Mike Hinves