Eagles take another step to financial stability

EASTBOURNE Speedway took a further step this week to establishing some form of financial stability, writes Paul Watson.

They announced four Partner Sponsors who will slot in behind the title sponsor, Lifestyle Europe.

The financial input from these businesses is vital to the Eagles, especially at a time when family finances are under pressure.

For some years the club had few, if any, sponsors but that’s all changed since Eagles’ owner Bob Dugard brought in Trevor Geer and Mike Bellerby as his co-promoters.

And one of the new promotion’s first moves last year was to bring back Chris Macdonald to Arlington as commercial manager.

He helped seal the deal with title sponsors Lifestyle Europe and is behind the setting up of this Partner Sponsor Group.

Macdonald has a great knowledge of speedway, with links to Ivan Mauger, has great acumen when it comes to promoting the benefits of the Eagles to businesses, and knows how to keep sponsors sweet.

Regular visitors to Arlington will have seen last year Macdonald ushering groups of people on to the centre-green for a close-up view of the racing.

It’s a “treat” for all those people who are at the speedway as a guest of one of the club’s sponsors.

Before the shutters had come down on the 2010 season Macdonald indicated to me that sponsorship for the following year was going well. “It should all be tied up by Christmas,” he said.

That looks very much to be the case.

It cannot be emphasised enough how important it is to professional sports clubs that they have revenue streams in addition to gate money.

I was told a couple of years ago that a football club, which always has home gates of 20,000 plus, did not even get half the revenue it needed from this source.

Eastbourne Speedway has not done well in the past from sponsorship and has been unable to compete with the big boys of the Elite League.

For example, Poole’s sponsors last year were insurance company Castle Cover and Coventry’s were Buildbase; both sponsors close to household names.

So Macdonald has had to build from a very low position but bit by bit the club is being strengthened off track.

As that work continues, Eastbourne Speedway will once again hope to live with the big boys of the sport and challenge for the title.

So, who are the Partner Sponsors? Well, three of them will be well known to regular fans while the other offers up some intriguing possibilities.

Members are Robins of Herstmonceux, Turner Engineering and V8 engines.eu, iGadgitz.com and Coastline Poster Services Ltd. Robins of Herstmonceux has often been on hand to provide professional advice and assistance to the club, as well as family members being regular attendees at the Eagles’ home matches.

Turner Engineering based in Lingfield, Surrey, will be a familiar name to Eagles’ fans as the company has been regular sponsors of individual riders for some years.

Ricky Kling, Cameron Woodward, Dawid Lampart and Tomasz Jedrzejak are among the riders who have enjoyed the support and assistance of the Turner family during the last season.

iGadgitz’s business was prominently advertised around the stadium last year. Coastline Poster Services, of Seaford, is a rapidly expanding business across the south of England and, one suspects, will be able to help the Eagles advertise meetings to a wider audience.

The other good news from the sponsorships is that title sponsor Lifestyle Europe – which has Mazda and Renault dealerships in Eastbourne – and iGadgitz are already talking about offers and deals for speedway supporters.

By doing that, they will ensure their sponsorship money works for them.

There’s been a hiatus of team news in recent days, almost certainly caused by the uncertainty over the immediate future of the Peterborough and Coventry clubs.

The fall out from an acrimonious annual meeting of the promoters goes on and it means Eastbourne are now unlikely to name their team before Christmas, as had been planned. Other clubs are in exactly the same position.

At the time of writing, all we know is that Bjarne Pedersen will be No 1.

While we know no more names, I fully expect Woodward and Simon Gustafsson to be back. Joonas Kylmakorpi has been released by Lakeside so it would be no surprise if he didn’t return to Arlington.