'Out of darkness comes a light of opportunity' - Eastbourne speedway bosses reveal emergency plan and offer hope for future

The Directors of Eastbourne Speedway, Les Fineing and Ian Jordan, have issued a detailed update over the outlook for the club amid the coronavirus pandemic - and it reveals they have made plans for the sport not taking place at all in 2020.

Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 10:00 am
Action last year at Arlington Stadium - speedway bosses are looking forward to the day when they can return

They also offer hope for the future of the club and say they can't wait to welcome fans back into Arlington Stadium when the time is right - and they will be running a series of special offers, plus discounts for people who have become the nation's heroes by leading the fight against the virus.

It addresses those who have sponsored the HG Aerospace Eagles for 2020 and those people who have taken advertising space and become season ticket holders.

It also sets out the impact on club’s overall financial position and addresses the issue of financial hardship for businesses, the club and fans.

There is also news of how the Eagles will say thank you to NHS workers and others involved in the fight against Covid-19 once racing resumes, an extension of the child season tickets offer AND adult (including concessions) admission of £10 for the first two home matches

The statement in full

We are living in very grim and frightening times and, for now at least, Speedway and specifically Eastbourne Speedway must go on to the “back burner”.

We would ask that you do your utmost to stay safe, remain vigilant and follow the Government Guidelines.

Hopefully, we can all be meeting later in the summer on a sunny Saturday night or Sunday afternoon at Arlington Stadium.

We are sure that your health, welfare and financial survival will be paramount in your thoughts, and indeed ours, at this time.

However, we do feel that it is important to keep you updated on the financial impact of the cessation of Speedway, until at least June 15, for the very good reason that we have received significant sums of sponsorship, advertising and season ticket money for the 2020 season from many of you.

We have previously indicated in a podcast and a question and answer interview that Ian did a few weeks ago how we have already invested some of those proceeds in to the vital and necessary set-up costs for a Speedway season.

The news of the cessation of all sport could not have come at a worse time, as a significant sum has been spent, with no immediate sign of any match day gate receipts, which accounts for around 90% of gross income each season.

As directors, we feel obliged and compelled to explain the various scenarios that we have considered, or are considering, and how we propose to move forwards.

Frankly, we don’t know what is going to happen, how long lock-down and cessation of the sport is going to last, but it’s important to have plans and to be transparent. The situation is very fluid and not helped by mixed messages which are often sensationalised by the national media.

We have a working assumption that the earliest return to Racing will be late June and a worst case scenario that there will be no speedway action in 2020.

Season Tickets

The BSPA/SCB informed us all last week that there will be no racing until at least June 15, 2020. We agree completely with this assessment and have no option, or indeed wishes, to do anything but to comply with it.

On the basis of a number of UK Government assessments, we feel that the worst of the pandemic may hit the UK between April 8 and 22, in terms of peak infections and death rates. Things may start to improve in early May.

If this is the case, and the situation improves during May and in to June, the review date of June 15, 2020, would hopefully see some good and positive news about the recommencement of the Speedway season at some time soon after that.

We are aware that the BSPA are working on various revised fixture models (the details of which are confidential at this time) but which we are actively involved with.

We propose, therefore, that on this “best case scenario” basis to review the position of both Season and 10-Match Ticket Refunds no later than June 15, 2020, when a much clearer picture will have emerged..

It is hoped that in the best case scenario we would have a minimum of 10 Home Matches. Once we know more on June 15, we can then assess the probability of the 10-Match Pass being fully utilised and also a specific full, or pro-rata refund, of the Full Season Ticket, or the option to carry over all unused matches in to 2021.

We will review this continually and also refer you to the Financial Hardship segment which is further below.

Sponsorship / Advertising

We are equally mindful of the excellent support that we have received from numerous sponsors and advertisers.

Some sponsorship and advertising monies have already been received, some are invoiced to be paid to us in due course and some have been committed to us at various times of the 2020 season.

We had planned to wait for the initial BSPA review date (April 15) before contacting all Sponsors and Advertisers, and now that we have a next review date of the June 15, 2020, we will between now and Easter contact all sponsors / advertisers, heat sponsors / race suit sponsors and rider support sponsors individually and in confidence.

We will discuss their preferred choice in how to proceed based on the current situation and taking in to account the probability of Speedway Racing taking place later in the summer.

Overall Position

The Club (Eastbourne Eagles Ltd) is financially solvent. The hope and expectation is that we can start the 2020 season at some point; and that the income accrued from gate receipts and ongoing sponsorship and advertising and use of season tickets revenue, can ensure that we not only survive and come through this unprecedented global crisis; but are also able to move and plan ahead from a secure financial base once things return to some form of normality and to look ahead to future seasons with confidence.

The Directors are as affected as everyone by the temporary close-down of many businesses and normal life during this period in their own businesses and financial affairs.

It is important for you to know though that the Directors have set aside reserve and personal funds to cover all potential current liabilities of Eastbourne Eagles Ltd in the immediate future, should they be required.

If, in the worst case scenario that there is NO Speedway at all in 2020, there is clear provision therefore to refund/repay all season ticket and sponsorship / advertising monies received for the 2020 season.

Hopefully that will not be the case, but we want to be clear and transparent that we have both considered and taken action to safeguard the situation, the Club and its Supporters and Backers; should it arise.

Financial Hardship

Whilst we have suggested a “holding position” until the next BSPA announcement on June 15, we are acutely aware that many individuals and businesses will encounter severe financial hardship over the next few months.

Whilst various Government-backed schemes have been announced to protect the employed, self-employed and less well off, it is clear that the reality is that any proceeds from that will be incredibly difficult to get swift approval for in some cases and funds flowing.

In the case of the self-employed, there will be a wait until at least early June. This includes all of our riders who are contracted on a self-employed basis.

The monthly Teambuilder continues. It is part lottery and part rider support fund with 50% of the prize fund going to Eagles Riders which is a massive help in the difficult times. Find out more here

We would make clear, therefore, that if anyone who has supported us very kindly via season ticket or sponsorship / advertising feels the need to contact us at any time prior to June 15, 2020, to discuss a part refund or refund, we can and will respond quickly and sympathetically to that request. In which case, please contact us at [email protected]

The clear and transparent message that we would have to give though, based on the spending already made for 2020 in preparation of the delayed season, is that IF there is no 2020 Speedway season:

1. The Directors of Eastbourne Speedway would do the right thing and, from both a moral and ethical standpoint, would not do what some clubs have in the past and leave bills unpaid. All current expected bills are covered; and any future as yet unknown bills will be covered by the contingency outlined above.

2. However, at that point – and only at the point of all bills and invoices having been paid – the Directors would have to seriously consider the options which may include closing the Company (Eastbourne Eagles Ltd) and handing back the Promoting Rights to someone else to hopefully pick up the cudgels in the future, whom we would fully support and assist in any way they requested. This is very much though a “last resort” position.

3. We genuinely and passionately believe that by prudent planning and the support of everyone; that we can and will come to tapes in 2021 whatever happens in 2020 and for many seasons after that, subject to Arlington Stadium wishing us to promote and run Speedway as their tenants in the future.

We believe that it is best to be transparent and to make you aware of the contingency planning we are making and that includes a worst case scenario.

That’s the worst case scenario, so now for some positive and hopefully very realistic forward thinking and planning. We are absolutely ready to start the season; whenever the sports authorities are given permission by Government guidelines to do so.

We have a supremely talented and all British 1-7 for whom we have high hopes.

We feel that we built some excellent momentum in 2019 and have carried that through the winter and will continue to do all we can to maintain until the season starts.

We will continue to keep updating all supporters with information and features designed to give you 100% transparency and some form of “speedway fix”.

Our 2020 merchandise will be gradually rolled out and there are already some photographs of the stunning new short and long-sleeved T-Shirt and 90th Anniversary Badge, which will shortly be made available to pre-order.

Merchandise will be launched only when supply lines can be 100% guaranteed, so that we set expectations and levels of customer satisfaction that we know we can meet. Check out the Merchandise Page regularly for new 2020 season items appearing.

We will continue to seek ways to bring revenues and new income streams into the Club.

We would also like to confirm that at our 2020 Season Opener we will promise to do two things in the light of the ongoing crisis and will seek the permission of Season Ticket Holders to do so (and will find ways of subsequently of making the same offer to them in the future so they have equal benefit).

We will admit all NHS Card Holders FREE OF CHARGE to our opening fixture and will contact all NHS facilities within a 20-mile radius of Arlington Stadium at an appropriate time.

We will extend our other Emergency Services Concession Rates to other core services and will plan, organise and announce more specific details in due course.

We are very mindful of two facts that are likely to be major ones as and when this horrible virus starts to recede:

a) there will be financial hardship for the majority of people;

b) there will be an overwhelming desire to get out, get about and return to some form of normality.

Our Sport must be ready to optimise this once in a generation opportunity and bring our Sport to the community like never before.

At Eastbourne Speedway we plan to be at the forefront of that marketing revolution of our Sport.

We will therefore extend our 11 and Under Free Pass to all aged 15 and Under for ALL Speedway in 2020 (and will guarantee it for 2021 if we run)

We will also reduce ALL Match DAY Admission for our first two home matches in 2020 to £10.00 for all Adults + Concessions (and we will review this match by match).

There are times in life when out of darkness comes a light of opportunity and a time when it’s possible to speculate to accumulate…we want to fill Arlington Stadium with current and new Speedway followers.

We will also invite all Supporters present at our first meeting to join us on a “Special Track Walk” after the meeting to solemnly remember those around the Globe who have not been as fortunate as ourselves and yet to celebrate, in a suitable way, a return to some form of normality.

We also hope to be able to welcome as many Ex-Eagles Riders and Members of the WRSA to join us on this occasion and you can read all about the Ex Riders’ Association and our Free Admission Offer to them and WRSA Members here

We will also be making an announcement shortly about the Management and Sponsorship of our new MSDL Junior Team – the Eastbourne Seagulls, who will have their own dedicated page on the Club website.

Please stay safe, do all you can to stay fit and healthy and we will be delighted to see you all at Arlington once we’ve kicked this disease and told it to “do one” in the best possible way, with the ideal product…Speedway Racing, 4 laps, No Brakes and Adrenaline Fuelled Excitement.

We will keep everyone updated with any changes as and when they happen and plan a further detailed update no later than April 30, 2020.