Saving Eagles will be mission impossible

Bob Dugard
Bob Dugard

Long-term Eastbourne Eagles promoter Bob Dugard insists it’s highly unlikely that Eastbourne Eagles will compete at Arlington Stadium next season.

The Eagles finished their Elite League campaign with defeat at Belle Vue on Monday and it looks to be their final ever race.

The Eagles currently lie fifth in the Elite League standings, eight points behind a play-off position where Swindon Robins currently hold the last play-off spot.

The current promotion team of Bob Dugard, Trevor Geer and Mike Bellerby agreed to disband once this year’s fixtures were completed. 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.

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.

Dugard said the only way the Eagles can compete is in an Elite League that hosts just eight home meets, eight away meets and two play-offs. Currently there are 40 meets per season which Dugard says doubles their losses.

The proposal has been put to the BSPA (British Speedway Association) and the other league clubs but they are highly unlikley to agree to the reduced fixtures.

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

Dugard said, “I wouldn’t even say there is a glimmer of hope at the moment. We have stated what we need to survive. The league and the other promoters want us to carry on but they will not agree to eight home meets per season.

“It’s an impossible situation for us. We have been losing huge amounts of money for the last few years.”

Of possible new backers, Dugard added, “Nothing has changed, nobody has come forward. We have had a few enquiries but nothing serious. As soon as they see the numbers that’s the end of it.

“It just doesn’t stack up anymore, it’s not financially viable.”

“The league structure needs looking at to be honest.

“Last week Wolves were at Swindon and they only had one junior rider. The rest were rider replacements. It’s a mockery and it short changes the fans. You wouldn’t see that in any other sport.”