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A Matter of Opinion....Steve Rayner....10/02/2003

Steve is a Swindon fan who lost touch with the sport for several years. Sky TV reawakened his interest in the sport.

Leigh Adams has been awarded a testimonial this season which will be staged at Swindon. Will you attend and do you think it's fair when he's ridden for so many teams over the years ?

I believe it is quite an honour for Swindon to stage the meeting and as well as generating money for Leigh himself and Swindon Speedway, it will also raise the profile of the club. Leigh still lives close to the area and knowing some of his close team over the years he would have preference to ride for the Robins if the opportunity arose again. I personally think Leigh is definitely an asset to the sport and youngsters probably don't have to look much further than him as a role model and therefore I shall be attending the meeting like many others in Swindon who feel the same. Speedway like in many sports has its "villains" and "good guys" and Leigh is definitely the latter.

You've seen Swindon in both the Elite and Premier Leagues. Given a straight choice, which league would you prefer them to operate in and why ?

Obviously with the Elite league you will have the top riders from the Grand Prix series and it always nice to see them racing against each other, however, financially Swindon cannot sustain an Elite League team with regards to wages etc. with the current influx of income from gate receipts. Swindon deserves a position in the top flight as it has one of the largest tracks in the country that is ideal for racing but the stadium has bit to be desired. Financially I think the correct choice has been made, but hand on heart I would like to see us back in the top flight. On saying this watching the likes of Charlie Gjedde and Oliver Allen is no bad thing, and with them doubling up to the Elite League can only improve them as riders.

How do you assess the Robins' prospects for 2003 ?

I don't think they are quite strong enough in depth to challenge for the title, but I can see them in the top 5 definitely. The team is very young apart from Paul Fry and I hope after his serious injury last year he can come back as a force and drive the team again with his leadership. The strongest teams look like Sheffield again and I quite like the look of The Isle of Wight.

What do you think of the quality of Speedway sites on the net ?

The ones of the teams are quite informative but most of the rider web-sites seem a bit distance from them. Like any fan club there is a need to feel a personal interaction and I think the only one that comes close is Joe Screen's. There is definite feeling of him being involved with the site rather than someone (who may be a big fan) just developing it.

What can Speedway do to attract a new generation of fans ?

Obviously the big step has been SkyTV's involvement and that has made it available to a much wider audience. Maybe locally it should be advertised a lot more. With Swindon there is such a big influx of people from London, Reading and the such like that they are not even aware that there is a speedway team. There may be a need to promote the events such as Riders Championships etc. and change the venues much more regularly. A big disappointment for me in the World Team Cup this year was that 2 venues that were used were quite small tracks and the racing possibilities were I thought limited. A change of format with more tracks used and spread all over the country would be advantageous.

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