BSI Speedway fails to organise brewery celebration

Ignoring that it’s a further embarrassment for the sport in the eyes of the outside world, the cancellation of the final Grand Prix of the 2008 at the “splendidly-appointed Veltins-Arena at Gelsenkirchen” has to raise yet more serious questions about the competence and visionary management of the organisers, BSI Speedway. It must also cast doubt upon their avowed strategy to extend the geography of the event and to always try to stage speedway meetings in modern plush stadia (without a speedway tradition). It’s amazing to think that a meeting held indoors (with a track that slides in and where the roof doesn’t open) can somehow manage to be postponed at all, never mind to do so at the last minute for the weird reason of adverse track conditions. However, there were clues something bizarre might happen since only last week the Speedway Star foreshadowed concerns about the staging in obscure but telling comments about missing coaches of fans from German clubs, “word from Germany is that the novelty factor has apparently been quick to wear off.” In 2007, though it looked much smaller on the night, the attendance was claimed by the organisers to have been 18,000. Only a few weeks ago unsubstantiated rumours swirled that advance ticket sales for the 2008 event had fallen by around 70%.

Looked at historically, it’s only a few years ago that BSI bungled a meeting in Ullevi that had to be abandoned (and staged the next week at the same venue) with track problems after a few races, while it was only in June that they were happy for the Cardiff Grand Prix to proceed, despite protests from the talent, on a sub-standard track that collectively the riders held to be dangerous. It was a miracle that no one was injured.

Clearly, the ability and reputation of BSI Speedway to stage good, safe racing in one-off venues large stadia continues to lie in tatters. In any normally run businesses, after such a catalogue of errors the senior management would be sacked or offer to resign. It remains to be seen if either Paul Bellamy, Ole Olsen or John Postlethwaite have such old fashioned integrity.

Judged by the statement issued and reasons given publicly, such honourable behaviour from the BSI Speedway management team remains as likely as ‘dry’ shale in Gelsenkirchen, while the explanations given by BSI Speedway appear both laughable and barely credible. Paul Bellamy said {with my italicised comments in brackets}: “We are very sorry for all the fans [we make so much money from the television rights sales and sponsorship monies they’re only there as window dressing anyway] who have booked tickets [I won’t mention hotel costs or travel expenses incurred] and were looking forward to a great night of speedway [based on last year, this is unlikely]. If there was any way we could have put this event on we would have [ticket sales were pitiful but we can sweep it under the carpet since we’re insured for its cancellation], but the decision of the FIM Jury with regard to rider safety is paramount [though we rarely listen to them] and we fully support this decision [it conveniently gets us off the hook].

“We now need to focus [we hear no evil and see no evil in BSI-world] on the event next weekend in Bydgoszcz [amazing it was free at such short notice] and make sure the final Grand Prix of the season is a great event [ticket sales won’t be pitiful there] for everyone involved [on our staff cocking this one up], in particular the fans [of Tomas Gollob].”

The following official comment also appears to raise more questions than it answers: “Following adverse weather conditions last week [where? when?] and during the construction of the track [is Ole Olsen up to the job? Doesn’t he have state of the art equipment?] at VELTINS-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany, the FIM Jury has decided [thank goodness we can say it was them] it is necessary to postpone [we can claim the insurance] the 2008 FIM German Speedway Grand Prix due to track safety concerns.”

Many fans will be hundreds of pounds out of pocket and, after having been forced to waste a weekend in Germany, they’ll find it very expensive to book a last minute trip to Poland where (strangely) many key hotels are already fully booked. Luckily BSI Speedway will delight them with their wonderful “goodwill” offer: “All ticket holders will be refunded their ticket money and, as a gesture of goodwill [be still my beating heart], will be offered a free ticket to a BSI promoted Grand Prix of their choice in 2009.”

Overall, it’s a pitiful performance by BSI Speedway who have – if you believe their story – clearly either failed to employ competent staff (Ole and his team) or contingency plan for the weather and shale storage. Another school of thought would hold that this again signals the contempt BSI Speedway hold for the intelligence of speedway fans (build it and they will come; give any old excuse) and insults the fans who’re prepared to pay good money on travel, accommodation and tickets to watch the often pitiful spectacle served up at meetings staged on a one-off tracks. Finally, if we ignore the happy coincidence of the availability of the stadium at Bydgoszcz, then it’s revealing that BSI Speedway have chosen to restage the meeting at a PROPER speedway track in a country with a tradition of speedway fanaticism. Consequently, the atmosphere will be great, the racing won’t be held back by the awfulness of the track and, so, will excite the fans there and those watching at home. This raises the question – why can’t racing on proper track surfaces be the future policy for all Grands Prix? Sadly, the answer with BSI Speedway is always to dress mutton as lamb, exploit the disposable fans, bank the money and present self interest as the common good.

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On his website Nicki Pedersen commented:

“It’s a huge scandal for speedway. I mean, we have all looked forward to this race, to give all our fans from all over the world a spectacular show. Instead we now have to explain how a final in the World Championship could be cancelled because of rain on a indoor track. That’s a scandal and for speedway it’s a big blow. All riders are frustrated by this situaion. We work hard every day to give our best, but unfortunately it’s out of our hands to decide how to make the tracks”

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One Response to BSI Speedway fails to organise brewery celebration

  1. eric, sweden
    October 13, 2008 at 7:58 am

    any clue how to claim back my costs for travelling and hotel ?

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