IN its July 16 issue, Speedway Star explained that it had ‘long enjoyed a healthy postbag from readers with their views and opinions on the sport, general and controversial, and on a wide range of topics. Nothing though has ever exceeded the response to Dave Stevens’ recent probe into the future of British speedway.’ It went on to publish a digest of the views expressed:

‘Besides a cutback in non-league and knock-out cup matches, there was also a considerable call for a changed match formula for team matches. Many supported Wally Mawdsley’s suggestion for six-man teams but with an extended number of races and for any “second-half” events to be confined almost exclusively to junior development.’

‘The apparently high guarantees and pre-season signing-on fees were not welcomed and many considered that the majority of riders in that earning bracket did little to warrant such payments anyway.’

‘Of the sport generally, readers were critical of the standard of refereeing, mostly as regards inconsistency in their interpretation of the regulations.’

‘We even had suggestions that programmes be restricted to just the race detail and an advertisement for the following fixture. “So much of the editorial which is printed is banal, anyway.”’

‘There were many complaints about matches which featured guest against guest and rider-replacement versus rider-replacement. That really incensed supporters, forced into making many additional programme alterations.’

‘There was a strong call for tougher discipline in all matters of transgression of the regulations, and fewer complaints and protests. “Speedway is a family sport, and is supposed to be a mature one, too.”’

‘Firmly answered was BSPA chairman Jack Fearnley’s view that supporters would pay more for their speedway to cover losses in revenue “subject to very strong guarantees …” “So many of us live a long distance even from our local track,” observed many readers. “With travel and admissions, it’s costing five or six quid a visit (£29 - £34 at 2013 prices) for a husband, wife and a couple of kids. Anything more and we’ll stay at home.”’

The views of the paying public

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The Great Debate 1977

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