Not for the first time Oxford City Council has saved the Sandy Lane stadium from the housing developers. This decision was taken on 16th December 2011, despite the city's desperate need to build more houses to help overcome the councils 6,000 waiting list for housing. Praise cannot be enough for this great decision for not only have they saved the stadium for leisure usage they have also called for its owners to allow speedway back.
This decision comes after the council's own consultation registered enthusiasm for speedway to return to the stadium. The stadium is not completely out of danger yet, since the stadium owners, capital investor (Capital Risk Partners) may still try to redevelop the site, so the campaign for Oxford stadium/speedway must continue.
As all speedway fans know Oxford Speedway has a proud history winning many trophies and titles, which in the past was recognised by city with a civic reception when they won the top league. The sport has brought speedway supporters many years of enjoyment from 1949 until the doors were shut by the stadiums capital investment owners in 2008. This happened despite the reports that promoters still wanted to run a team in the 2009 league, since then the stadium owners have shamefully chosen to remain silent when further attempts have been made to open up discussions. Disgracefully they have left everyone uncertain about the stadium's future while doing little to improve the facilities to make the stadium more viable.
The council's message to the owners is clear, make a success of the venue and make it into a multi-purpose arena which includes speedway a family sport enjoyed by all ages. The council accepts that speedway fans are a friendly lot with supporters from opposing teams standing side by side on the terraces, where part of the enjoyment at any track is the harmless banter that goes on between the heats. Speedway is a good night out, free from violence and not expensive for a family especially when Oxford youngest were allowed go in free by previous promoters.
This opportunity must not be lost if league racing is to return, the track must now be used for speedway racing as soon as possible. To begin why not try to establish it as training track, since for additional teams to join the leagues we need more young, especially British, riders to come through. Who knows how many young lads are out there, possible living alongside the Sandy Lane track, during these hard time just waiting for the chance to learn the skills and earn money riding a speedway bike? It has been done before with Oxford based riders coming through the ranks.
The Oxford City Council has given Oxford speedway supporters a lifeline and what we need now is a good promoter to take up the challenge to get speedway back on a track with nearly sixty successful years of racing behind it. This will not be easy, especially since the stadium owners in the past have been anti speedway but with the councils support a promoter with the resource, experience and love of the sport could well make over 1,000 potential Oxford supporters very,very happy.
This article was first published on 12th January 2012
"Having just, very gently, returned home after major surgery, John Frays news is a great boost to me.Three cheers for Oxford Council, may the good people of that city add further to the clubs great history and legacy!"
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