Thursday October 22, 2020
LEICESTER promoter Stewart Dickson has revealed how the club has survived through the toughest of years – with the speedway season destroyed by coronavius.

Only one meeting has taken place at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena in 2020, a round of the British Youth Championship in August, and even that had to take place behind closed doors.

With the stadium made Covid-secure and all precautions in place, hopes were high that at least some competitive track action would be possible in late-summer and autumn – but the ever-changing restrictions at both local and national level put paid to that.

And that has left the club, like many counterparts in both their own sport and others, battling to ensure they can pick up the pieces when spectators are again allowed to enter venues.

Dickson said: “As a club we pay our landlord (David Hemsley) an annual rent, and there’s obviously other costs like electricity and water and so on.

“He’s been very reasonable with us, and we’ve managed to work out a package up to date that’s managed to keep us afloat.

“We’ve been doing a lot of practice days behind closed doors, charging riders to get on track with Covid restrictions in place, and it’s kept us above water at the moment.

“If it was to go on into next season, I think we could be looking at serious problems regarding keeping the sport alive. People can drift away if they lose interest.

“It’s disappointing that we’ve not managed to get the wheels in motion yet. When you’ve got an open-air stadium, you find it difficult to see other things going on in the country, and speedway which is an outdoor sport can’t be allowed to race.”

Today (Thursday) marks the one-year anniversary of the club’s greatest triumph as the Watling JCB Lions clinched the Championship title in a nerve-shredding Grand Final at Glasgow.

They were hotly-tipped to be amongst the main contenders in 2020 too, although Dickson admits there is a possibility his team plans could require a slight alteration before the anticipated resumption next spring.

He said: “There was no greater time to be a Leicester Lions speedway supporter. Our crowds were up, and everybody was very enthusiastic about the club.

“We certainly plan to be running next April, and we’ve offered all seven riders in our team the same contract as they were offered for this season.

“I’ve got six back who are all prepared to race, and one can’t give me a definitive answer just at the moment, so on the team-building front I might have a bit of work to do.

“But hopefully the way things are going, we should still be ready for the tapes going up next April.”

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