Longest standing speedway venue could lose club because of Covid restrictions

Newcastle Speedway rides at the longest standing speedway venue still in operation in the country, but Brough Park could soon lose its rich speedway history.

Newcastle Diamonds has a 92 year legacy and has been home to world champions Ivan Mauger, Ole Olsen, Anders Michanek and Nicki Pederson.

Now, the club says it is fundraising to keep that history alive, after a year of restrictions has left it struggling financially.

The 2020 season for professional British speedway was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year, the season was pushed back a month, moving from April to May because of lockdown restrictions.

Newcastle Speedway says all of this, plus social distancing measures, means it has been running at a loss since the pandemic began.

Rachel Robley is the commercial manager at the club. She says moving ticket sales online because of track and trace has also had a big impact on sales.

Newcastle Speedway was running three teams: the Diamonds, the Gems and the Sapphires. Since Covid, the club says it has had to drop the Gems because it couldn't afford the overheads of running three teams under the current restrictions.

When the Prime Minister announced the delay to so-called "freedom day" from 21 June to 19 July - Rachel launched the fundraiser. She says without it, they wouldn't make it to the end of the season.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport says: "We fully understand that not being able to progress to step four on 21 June is challenging for sports and clubs. 

"But as the Prime Minister has always said, our roadmap is cautious and irreversible but we can only take this step once the four tests have been met.

"The government remains committed to helping sports clubs make it through the pandemic, which is why speedway clubs have been offered £300,000 in loan support as part of the winter phase of the Sport Survival Package."