Tough times for Eastbourne Eagles: Boss explains challenges as Birmingham fixture is called off

Eastbourne HG Aerospace Eagles Speedway have taken an early decision to cancel the planned fixture against the Birmingham Brummies this Saturday.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 5:17 pm
Recent action at Arlington between the Eagles and Scunthorpe / Picture: Mike Hinves

With the sport generally encountering a very difficult time following the almost complete loss of the 2020 season and a truncated start to the 2021 season, which has been exacerbated by an unusually high number of rained off Meetings already, Club Director Ian Jordan explained the

logic and reasoning behind a decision, that he accepts won’t be universally popular.

Jordan said: "This is an incredibly tough call to make but as always, I think it’s most important to be transparent and to try to explain the decisions we make. Some will agree, some will understand, some won’t agree, but at least by outlining the facts, everyone can make their own mind up.

"The weather forecast for the end of the week and the weekend is particularly poor. We do have our own weather expert and she has been incredibly accurate. Only last Saturday, she was confident it would not rain at Arlington and save for a few spots it didn’t.

"Everyone who lives locally will know that there was torrential rain and flash downpours almost everywhere within a few miles of the track and many who did come, commented on that fact. The latest forecast for this Saturday is that a stronger belt of rain will develop early on Saturday morning through the night into Saturday with a 70-80% probability. This will continue through the day easing only by Saturday evening to around 50%. There is a likelihood of the showers being more thundery and heavy in nature with a risk of lightning from around 11am to 5pm.

"Given the accuracy of past forecasts we simply cannot ignore that prediction. Our crowd last Saturday was the lowest we have had since the current

Promotion took over in 2019. The underlying explanations are not hard to find, the weather in the vicinity, the fact that we clashed with a 2 day Speedway GP Round and the ongoing issue of a significant number of people still isolating due to being pinged by the Covid App.

"We sustained a significant loss on the meeting and with all of the mitigating factors again in play this coming weekend, it simply comes down to a choice between what the heart says and what the head says. With regards to the Speedway GP series, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, as entertaining and exciting as it is, I believe for weekend tracks like ours; who lose 100-200 people every time we go up against it, it poses the greatest existential threat to British Speedway in general and to Eastbourne Speedway specifically.

"Whilst our floating supporter base chooses to sit in front of the TV and watch it, the viability and probability of being able to watch raw, exciting LIVE Speedway in the flesh recedes and diminishes and it really does become a choice between pressing the record button or hearing the Arlington turnstiles continue to click. We can try to avoid it, but it has the power to move fixtures at will and random, a luxury we don’t have.

"The heart will always want to get a Speedway meeting on if at all possible; and hates letting down our loyal hardcore of supporters. The head says, that if in any other form of business, you were opening knowing you were going to suffer a significant loss of income, you would be barmy to do so.

"It is a well-known and generational trait in Speedway Promoters and Directors that in 99% of circumstances the heart rules the head, we get pilloried for a lot that goes wrong and some things that don’t go wrong, but right now every team is battling for survival and for once the head has to rule the heart.

"We have also encountered some other issues that are outside of our control in the past few weeks. On Saturday we had to race the Meeting

without starting tapes after an electrical issue. I’d like to both thank the Referee and Riders and Officials of both teams for riding under these circumstances and to apologise personally and on behalf of the Club to all supporters for the delay in trying to locate and rectify the situation. Your good grace is and was very much appreciated.

"I have read some comments on social media about an alleged lack of preparation and testing of the tapes following problems earlier in the season. The tapes were fully tested before the meeting as part of the afternoon checks and worked without any problems.

"The issues on this occasion were totally different to those experienced earlier in the season, the cause of which has been rectified, and the fault on Saturday could not have been foreseen and could have happened at any time.

"The problem has been diagnosed as a blown transponder and I’d like to thank Neil and Chris from the Stadium Staff, and everyone else including

a few experts who are supporters in trying to fix the problem. The tapes have been sorted, we hope to have the use of a completely spare set too available if required, but obviously we would like to test these fully before the next match to ensure all possible issues within our control have been rectified.

"The break will allow the opportunity to add some new shale to the track augmented by the arrival of some new track preparation equipment. We pride ourselves on customer service and transparency, on Saturday we failed in terms of the delays. We have to hold our hands up and as a Director, it’s important to take personal responsibility and to assess the facts.

"With hand on heart therefore, with so many concerns about this coming weekend, and the financial implications that another low crowd could have on the probability of getting to the end of the season, a decision has been made to do our utmost to ensure that at the next Home Meeting we can ensure a product that we are proud of and proud to be associated with.

"It’s a paradox not totally lost though; that the green light starts delivered what many supporters have told us was one of the best meetings in a long time; on a smooth track that was a credit to those involved in its preparation on a day when it was impossible to water adequately, when we were surrounded by black clouds and heavy rain, yet which produced some very exciting Speedway of the highest order

"We wish those Clubs who appear to be in perilous situations all the very best of luck in the coming weeks, especially Birmingham and Newcastle, both Clubs run by truly outstanding people. We need to retain all of our own wonderful and much appreciated core and loyal support, to encourage back the floating and occasional Supporters and, now that Covid Restrictions finally allow us to do, to reignite the very popular and successful Community Programme that delivered so much success in 2019 and saw us finish that season with such momentum.

"We are battling ourselves to try to get through 2021 so that we may at least have the chance to look ahead to 2022. We, like all other Speedway Clubs need every bit of help and support that we can find, be it financial, skills, volunteers, encouraging friends to come or simply spreading the word, and if you can help in any way please contact Lee Kilby at [email protected] or the Commercial Team at [email protected] If you’d like to discuss the Community Programme please contact us at [email protected]

"We look forward to our next Fixture on the 21st August against the Redcar Bears. Online Tickets are now on sale via www.eastbourne-speedway.com"