Speedway future in doubt: Eagles ‘highly unlikley’ to ride next season

Promotional team of Trevor Geer, Bob Dugard and Mike Bellerby will depart after this season
Promotional team of Trevor Geer, Bob Dugard and Mike Bellerby will depart after this season

The future of the Eastbourne Eagles speedway club looks in serious doubt as they desperately attempt to find new promoters.

The current promotion team of Bob Dugard, Trevor Geer and Mike Bellerby will disband once this year’s fixtures have been completed.

If a new team cannot be found, then the Eagles will not be racing next season.

It would prove a blow to fans who have enjoyed speedway in Eastbourne since 1929.

The club have advised the British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) of the promotional change which followed shortly after Elite rivals Birmingham pulled out of the league due to financial problems

Dugard, who owns the promoting rights for Eastbourne with his brother Eric, said he did not wish to continue with the financial commitments and responsibilities of running the Eagles on a day-to-day basis.

Despite competing in the Elite league and attracting some of the most talented riders, the club is said to have lost more than £100,000 last year.

It is a loss Dugard is no longer prepared to take.

Rising costs, coupled with lower attendances and clashes with FIM and Grand Prix meetings have all contributed to the financial problems.

Top riders will miss the Elite League fixtures in preference to race in places like Poland in front of 15,000 fans as opposed to the 600 who turn out at Arlington.

The bigger attendances away from the Elite League generates more money for the top riders who can expect to treble their income at these meets.

Instead of earning around £3,000 per meet in the Elite League they can pocket £9,000 from their trips to Poland.

Dugard has bank rolled speedway in Eastbourne for decades but he is now aged 72 and in the last couple of years has undergone major heart surgery.

Dugard said, “The personal circumstances of the current promotion and difficult trading resulting in a projected large loss this year means we are unable to commit to running speedway at Arlington Stadium in 2015.

Dugard added, “It’s a very tough challenge. If I knew the answer we would have done it years ago.

“To be honest I’m very pessimistic about the future of the club.

“I am looking for someone, or a consortium, to take over the rights to run speedway here at Eastbourne.

“We have worked extremely hard this year to promote speedway at Eastbourne and have put together a team which has enjoyed a long run of success on its own track with excellent performances this season at Arlington.

“The efforts of this promotion have met a disappointing response from fans.”

Dugard said the only way forward was for a new promoter or promoters to take over the Eagles.

“New people at the helm will have the opportunity of doing things their way and effectively re-launch the sport at Eastbourne.

“They will have the opportunity to put their stamp on proceedings and ‘sell’ the sport to a new audience,” he said.

“Dugard added, “It’s a very tough challenge

He confirmed that if a new promotion was not found for 2015 the BSPA may be asked to put the Eastbourne licence “on ice” for a year.

The BSPA pre-AGM meeting is due to take place early in September.

At this point Eastbourne Speedway is looking to confirm its intentions for 2015.

Interested parties should make contact via e-mail using info@eastbourneeagles.co