Speedway: Fight to keep Berwick Bandits on track continues

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BERWICK Bandits are pressing forward with their plans for 2013 despite not, as yet, securing a main sponsor for the team, writes Lawrence Heppell.

The Club has entered into negotiations with several potential main sponsors, but nothing has been determined so far and despite rumours to the contrary, Berwick Bandits Speedway Club does not as yet have a team sponsor for 2013.

However owners John Anderson, George Hepburn and George Fairgrieve were unanimous in their desire to push the club forward once again in 2013 with the Tweedmouth based team already being announced as the venue for the Speedway Benevolent Fund’s now traditional curtain raiser - The Ben Fund Bonanza.

The club is very excited with the honour of staging this meeting, not because of the prospect of some of the biggest names in world speedway gracing the Shielfield Park shale, but as a thank you to the loyal supporters who have donated in excess of £3500 to the “Ben Fund” from their annual collections at the track over the last three seasons. And, the club was honoured with a special presentation from the British Speedway Promoters Association chairman, Alex Harkess at their 2012 End of Season presentation evening a fortnight ago, marking the achievement of the Berwick fans in collecting these funds.

This meeting is scheduled for Saturday March 9th and, coupled with the FIM World Under-21 Championship (round four) on August 10th which has also been allocated to the Bandits, makes the 2013 season a mouth-watering prospect for all involved with the Border based club.

The three owners have stressed that much work has still to be done in raising the financial backing the club requires in order to come to the tapes for the start of the Premier League season in 2013.

John Anderson revealed last night: “We are very passionate about the team here at Berwick, but the simple truth is we have lost our financial stability that we have had for the past three years through our wonderful deal with A & J Scott of Wooperton.

“We have actively tried to encourage a new audience as well as trying to attract former supporters who may have drifted away from the sport by decreasing admission prices - and next year I can reveal that the admission prices will be just £12 for adults, £10 for concessions and kids will be absolutely FREE when accompanied by a supervising adult.”

George Hepburn added: “We recognise the hardship that many people in the country have faced in the past 12 months, and with an economy recovery not expected in the near future we want to ensure that speedway at Berwick can be marketed as a fun night out for the family.

“We will be selling advanced tickets in books of five and 10 so that they may be given as gifts, and our season tickets are very keenly priced for our die-hard supporters, whom we are so thankful for.”

George Fairgrieve summed up the mood in the Bandits camp saying: “We are taking a positive attitude; we are a family-run club with good ethics and want to put on a good entertaining show on a Saturday night that can be enjoyed by all the family.

“We listen to what our supporters want and try to give value-for-money entertainment and make no mistake - we are intent on running in 2013, and reach out to everyone in the Berwick area - remembering that the Bandits still have on average the highest attendance of any spectated sport between Edinburgh and Newcastle so please help your Club, not only to survive but to prosper!

“Too many people have put too much effort into the sport in the area for us to become victims of the spiralling costs of Motorsport. We have associate sponsorships available to anyone, be it a small business, and individual or multi-national company.

“These are all by negotiation with packages to suit your needs, and I urge you to contact Julie Newton on 07840-998-845 now, to not only help the Bandits survive but thrive in 2013.”

Club Co-Promoter Dennis McCleary added: “We are in negotiations with a number of riders for 2013 with most realising that they need to take a pay cut in order to race in the Premier League in 2013.

“We have been enthused by the reaction by most of the riders who realise that without the clubs there is no league speedway and therefore no job for them at all.

“It looks as though we will once again have 13 clubs come to the Premier League tapes for 2013 stretching the length and breadth of Great Britain and it would be a travesty if even one club folds as that is seven riders unemployed.

“We are not in a unique financial position at Berwick, and therefore league bosses have to be applauded for tackling the problems before they escalate beyond repair.

“Speedway has featured at Berwick every summer since 1968 and we are not about to let that stop in the near future.

“I have been privileged to be involved with Berwick Speedway for a number of years, but for the Club to be recognised as it has been by the FIM, since the decision to install a state of the art Polyfoam Safety Fence, it really has been a true reward for all the effort that has been put in by so many.

“We will continue to fight for the future of the sport!”