Speedway is more under threat in the UK than it's ever been - so what does the future hold?

The British speedway landscape has again seen a shift since the Edinburgh Monarchs last turned a wheel at Glasgow 12 days ago.
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In that short period, Premiership top duo the Peterborough Panthers and Wolverhampton Wolves' futures have been thrown under the bus following the announcement that their respective stadiums - the East of England Showground and Monmore Green - will no longer accommodate speedway racing beyond the end of this season.

Wolves have been operating at the West Midlands venue since 1928 and a petition launched to aid efforts to save the club from being made homeless has already amassed more than 14,000 signatures - an incredible response since the news broke earlier this week.

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Closer to home, Monarchs fans are all too familiar with this grim scenario having endured a similar predicament with Armadale towards the end of last season, only to be given a reprieve just a couple of weeks after the farewell meeting in October. There's no other way of dressing it up. The future of speedway in the UK looks undeniably bleak.

The Edinburgh Monarchs 2023. Picture: Jack Cupido.The Edinburgh Monarchs 2023. Picture: Jack Cupido.
The Edinburgh Monarchs 2023. Picture: Jack Cupido.

The top flight is barely keeping its head above water with a paltry seven teams now battling it out for Premiership honours. And despite all the clamour over the return of household names Dan Bewley and Emil Sayfutdinov to these shores for 2023, it doesn't detract from the reality that the vast majority of clubs dotted across the country are never too far from being plunged into oblivion.

It's impossible to forecast if Monarchs' own predicament over their West Lothian venue will rear its ugly head in a few months' time.

What has become abundantly clear is that stadium ownership is fundamental to the long-term future of the sport in this country. Take Championship rivals the Glasgow Tigers and Redcar Bears, for example. Both team owners have their names above the doors of Ashfield and the ECCO Arena respectively. That said, those clubs ultimately rely on others if they too are to keep the throttle on.

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Now, in an ideal world, all British clubs would have the financial resources at their disposal to deploy a similar model and safeguard their identities.

But as the modern-day speedway fan knows only too well, clubs in the UK, unlike their Polish counterparts, aren't blessed with a bottomless pit of money. It really is pie in the sky stuff.

The vast majority of local councils also appear to have little, if any, appetite to help stave off the threat of extinction and seem hellbent on running the sport into the ground once and for all. Student accommodation on the other hand...

West Lothian Council showed their true colours last summer when they rejected Monarchs' bid for a new stadium on the outskirts of Livingston. The Capital outfit's development director Gordon Campbell hasn't given up on relocating the club and is actively seeking alternative sites.

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Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly believe we have now reached a critical juncture with British speedway. Despite this week's unsettling news regarding Wolves, it has attracted a lot of publicity, including the BBC, which can only help the club's bid for survival. Here’s hoping their current plight continues to gain more traction in the coming days.

It is a real challenge to remain upbeat in wake of the latest setback, and no one can predict what’s around the corner for the bikes with no brakes in the UK. Perhaps Nicki Pedersen knows more than the rest of us do.

But despite all the doom and gloom this week, let's just enjoy our racing while we still can – starting with tonight’s visit of the Berwick Bandits.