THE COVENTRY Observer has today launched a campaign to ‘Save Our Bees’ – calling on all parties involved in the ongoing off-track dispute at Coventry Stadium to get the Bees back racing in time for the 2018 season.
Yesterday, it was revealed by the British Speedway Promoters Association that Bees’ 2017 SGB Premiership season was over before a wheel had been turned.
The news ended 88 years of speedway history in Coventry and broke the hearts of generations of fans who regularly attended the club’s Friday night fixtures at Coventry Stadium throughout the summer months.
The club has been home to some of the sport’s greatest ever riders including Ole Olsen, Tommy Knudsen, Greg Hancock, Chris Harris and the late Lee Richardson.
Nigel Boocock was another rider to have proudly sported the Coventry Bees jacket – his achievements at Coventry Stadium were highlighted at a special memorial service in January 2016.
Since forming, the Bees have won 36 major championships – including the Elite League, British League, Midland Cup, British League Knockout Cup, Craven Shield and more.
In 2010, the Bees won the Elite League Playoff Championship in dramatic style against the Poole Pirates – after spending much of that season positioned at the lower end of the Elite League table.
Tens of thousands of fans used to turn out each week to watch the still world-famous club in action, with crowds peaking at higher than 25,000 during the sport’s heyday in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
However in recent years there has been ongoing uncertainty regarding the club’s future – and yesterday’s announcement confirmed the news all Bees fans didn’t want to hear, the club is homeless and has been forced to shut its doors.
The off-track politics involving Coventry Bees owner Mick Horton, current stadium owners Brandon Estates, Coventry Stox and Rugby Borough Council has resulted in the loss of one of speedway’s most famous clubs.
Fans are without a team to support.
Though constant efforts to save the Bees were made by the BSPA and Rugby Borough Council during a bitter off-season, it would seem their hard-work has been plagued by empty promises from those involved at the club.
From Chris ‘Bomber’ Harris’ blasts around the safety fence to clinch many unthinkable race wins, to Martin Dugard’s memorable British GP win in 2000 and the fierce battles on track between M6 rivals Cradley, Coventry Stadium has hosted many a memorable moment.
And it cannot be lost.
Our campaign calls on the Coventry Bees, Brandon Estates, Rugby Borough Council and all relevant institutions to support:
1. Getting the world-famous Coventry Bees back on track for the 2018 SGB Premiership season.
2. Ensuring a long-term plan is developed so the Bees can look forward to a bright future away from their Brandon home once a potential lease ends.