Could Barry Hearn be the man to cure speedway’s ails?
Sports broadcaster and writer Nigel Pearson considers the options
There has been a lot of talk recently about Eddie Hearn, son of legendary sports promoter Barry, getting involved with rugby league.
And that set me thinking about a question I often get asked about Barry.
He’s done a magnificent job in making darts massive, he even makes the ‘ping pong’ exciting at Alexandra Palace and snooker is on the rise again thanks to him.
But how would Barry transform the fortunes of speedway?
I’ve often seen this question in the letters page of Speedway Star, and on social media.
It’s not simple. In fact, I don’t think anyone has the answer that would make more people come through the turnstiles.
Everyone has ideas, but how would they work?
The first and main point to consider is weather – particularly apt after the worst start to a season I can remember.
‘I don’t think anyone has the answer that would make more people come through the turnstiles’
I was talking regularly to Sheffield’s former Stars rider Simon Stead and in the build-up to his farewell meeting he was constantly checking the weather app on his phone.
He was stressed like he’s never been before.
He made the point that he couldn’t be a promoter, hosting 20 meetings a year. It would send him mad!
And that same weekend as his farewell, look at Poole. Matt Ford promoted the backside off his 70th anniversary meeting at Wimborne Road, a bumper crowd was nailed on and then 90 minutes before the start he pulled the plug. Covers wouldn’t have saved it, Barry Hearn couldn’t have saved it. You get my drift, right?
More than ever, it seems we are weather dependent in this sport. It remains the biggest friend when the sun is out but, as Matt knows only too well, it can also be the biggest enemy when it throws it down.
Count the cost. Rider travel including hotels and air fares, stadium rent, programme printing and so it goes on.
Postponements are a major disruption in more ways than one.
- What do you think of Nigel’s views? Tweet him @nigelpearson – he’d love to hear from you, agree or disagree!