The trials & tribulations of running Newport Speedway: some quotes from Steve & Nick Mallett

The closure of Newport Speedway because of a dispute with the BSPA is the Valentine’s Day news that speedway fans didn’t want to hear and, given talk of potential interested parties, hope will soon prove to be only temporary. Over past years, club co-promoters Steve and Nick Mallett have spoken honestly to the media about the financial stress and strain of running their club.

Their quotes from the 2011 speedway season appear in #speedwaylife along with those of many other riders, promoters, journalists and fans.

The selection of Steve and Nick’s quotes below give a flavour of the contemporary difficulty of running a British speedway club on a commercial basis.

22nd January 2011

Nicky Mallett

“Mark fitted in like a glove on a hand”

19th February

Steve Mallett

“We are extremely disappointed with the conduct of those clubs which decide to let it be known that they have taken over a rider, but without having agreed terms with us. You would think that clubs would want to make sure the rider they are wanting to bring is actually their man. In the cases of Atkin, Webster and Armstrong, I can reveal now that terms have not been agreed and the paperwork has most certainly not gone through the BSPA office.”

23rd April

Nicky Mallett

“The riders were left in no doubt whatsoever (during dressing room pep talk) that no-one here at this club was happy at all with the performance in that home reverse against Rye House. They were told straight that a list of would-be replacement riders was going to be drawn up there and then and that every one of them could go.”

10th May

Steve Mallett

“We have had to let our heads rule our heart with respect to Mark (Jones). We had to do something to improve matters and we are preparing the ground for another move. It is now up to the Newport fans who cried out for change to turn out in force and show their support for the adjustment in team personnel. Justin (Sedgmen) has been plying his trade with Swindon in the Elite League so far this season and his acquisition is a real coup.”

12th May

Steve Mallett

“I have already had preliminary talks with the sport’s governing body about the (NL withdrawal) implications in terms of fines etc but matters cannot continue to be sustained at the present level of attendance. We have one of the best infrastructures for rider development in British Speedway in terms of running training schools, a team in the National League and a senior team in the Premier League but the sums don’t add up and a tough decision with respect to the Hornets is pending. If fans want to see the lads continue in action they need to get down to Queensway Meadows and show their support.”

14th May

Nicky Mallett a few weeks before ‘rain’ led to the early postponement of Newport v Plymouth on a SGP night that also featured Man U v Barca

“Let’s face it, the Grand Prix is watched by massive numbers of British fans and, of course, that includes (both of?) ours. It would have been silly of us to think that we could run a Knockout Cup fixture against the Grand Prix and we are delighted to announce that our fans now have the opportunity to watch both events. Now we have done that, we are seeking our fans to be loyal to us and turn up in their numbers to support the Hornets.”

Steve Mallett

“2011 has been the worst start to a season by the Wasps since the sport returned here in 1997 and that simply cannot continue, we need wins home AND away and I will do anything to make that happen.”

18th May

Steve Mallett

“The attendance for our most recent home match in the (NL) cup was still not good enough but we had a meeting of senior management and decided to persevere for now. However, we do appeal to Newport fans that if they want us to be able to run a second team then they must get down here for the next home fixture against Mildenhall on Bank Holiday Monday May 30th and show their support.”

4th June

Steve Mallett

“I just hope crowd sizes continue to increase. Things now appear heading in the right direction and we just hope the famous saying that a good team will bring in a good crowd is true and not just a myth!”

2nd July

Nick Mallett

“To be frank, it is simply not good enough by the stretch of anyone’s imagination for four riders to only score ten points between them. It is my opinion that now is the time for me to unwrap everyone from their cotton-wool existence and spell out some home truths. Obviously I would never go public in what I plan to say to any rider, be it good or bad comments….as someone who has ridden myself, I am fully aware that no one ever goes out to deliberately underperform”

14th July

Steve Mallett

“We have attracted increased coverage from a variety of media outlets, have set-up two highly-successful websites, completed several extremely large leaflet drops throughout Gwent and the valley and recently did so outside the Millennium Stadium before and after the Grand Prix. Anybody willing to give their time to work for the good of the club can easily contact ourselves and any fresh ideas will be listened to.”

13th August

Nick Mallett

“On both occasions, the problem was started by members of the visiting sides and as such, we obviously had neither any idea it was going to happen or indeed control over it. It is crucial that people realise that speedway is an emotive sport and it would not be right of me to hide that fact that verbal and physical differences do happen from time to time. In the main, it normally happens away from the public. But on the two occasions at our ground recently, it has been in full gaze of everyone. We regret what has happened, obviously, and we are satisfied that appropriate action has and will be taken in an attempt to ensure it doesn’t happen again. But I stress, none of this was in anyway the blame of Newport Speedway and we cannot emphasize just how safe watching speedway at our ground is.”

20th August

Steve Mallett

“To have only 401 for a meeting with our nearest rivals was a huge disappointment and people must realise that we, and I include all my family, cannot go on losing any more money.”

16th September

Steve Mallett

“We have been advised time and again that speedway fans will only turn up en-mass to follow a winning side, so we dug deep into our financial pot and produced one which has won 13 and drawn another in its last 17 league and cup fixtures. But crowd sizes remain below what they should be and we really have reached the stage now that it’s make or break for local speedway followers. I really am urging fans who occasionally to come to watch to unite in a show of strength for Saturday night, without doubt the biggest meeting in our time here.”

6th October

Steve Mallett

“We have done our bit in producing a side capable of winning ten successive home meetings and then picking up silverware. But what we don’t want now is for fans to say to themselves, ‘that’s it, we did our bit by turning up for the Cup Final. We really do, and I can’t stress this enough, want them all to return for our final few fixtures. The stark reality is if they don’t, then the very existence of this great club is in doubt.”

15th October

Steve Mallett

“Here we are in mid-October and with only two weeks left of the season and this club still has seven Premier League meetings to fit in. That is a ludicrous state of affairs and one of the reasons we find ourselves in this mess is that other clubs have been highly uncooperative over dates and it was not so very long ago that we had successive weekends minus a home meeting. I said a few weeks ago that the two-phase fixture list had not worked as it had been planned and there are now many people agreeing with that thought.”

28th October

Steve Mallett

“I am asking every fan who has ever watched this club over the years to come and support us in our final meeting of the season against Edinburgh. This is very much a ‘Save the Wasps’ plea from us all here at Newport and unless we have a good turnout, then what else are we to deduce from it? We won the Knockout Cup and have a chance to finish fourth in the Premier League and at the risk of repeating myself, speedway in this city is the only winning sport with all the rugby and football clubs struggling.”

29th October

Steve Mallett

“The National League has been a disaster this year. The team hasn’t ridden well and the people have faded away. I didn’t come into this to do National League. Don’t get me wrong. Given that Nick came through as a junior, we wanted to do something to help the kids. But we want to be with the big boys. That’s the whole idea of it. If we’re running, we’re only doing Premier.”

Steve Mallett

“We’ve lost an absolute fortune without a shadow of a doubt. The crowds haven’t been good enough at all. I get told off for being negative, but I’d get told off if I shut the stadium on a whim. So what should I do?”

3rd November

Nick Mallett

“We are having deep talks to decide the future of Newport Speedway and none of us really want the sport to be lost to the town, but we have had to have a realistic look at the finances involved in putting together what has been the most successful side in the club’s history. Our General Manager, Laurence Rogers, is working overtime trying to find a solution along with the family and Peter Mole. So when I said I wanted to do this slim down, Laurence asked why not do it as a sponsored slim to raise funds for the club’s survival?”

5th November

Nick Mallett

“We had a warning from the council recently over the leaflets we’ve been putting out. We had a written warning.”

11th November

Nick Mallett

“The reason we have decided to end the Hornets’ existence has been made purely and simply because of financial circumstances. Crowds have disappointingly been very poor here at our Queensway Meadows Stadium home track. That was even the case earlier in the season when the side put together a few home wins.”

12th November

Nick Mallett

“Let me say right here and now that we would have made the same decision had we won the title.”

Steve Mallett

“We will sit around a table and thrash this matter out once and for all and, if it is to be bad news, then nobody can say they are surprised.”

17th December

Nick Mallett

“It was partly my own fault and by the way the [PL] league situation worked against us whereby we lost so many home meetings….because of the lack of home [NL] fixtures, the crowd disappeared and at the same time the confidence of our riders seemed to disappear as well.”

4th February 2012

Steve Mallett

“If this situation [Kurtz average reduction], of which the club is completely innocent is not quickly resolved, then we will be forced into a scenario in which we have no alternative but to withdraw the Wasps from the Premier League…I have long come to the conclusion that those who help run this club do not need the stress that British speedway always manages to heap upon us.”

11th February

Steve Mallett

“What I will say at this point is that I feel I have been cut off at the legs and that Newport Speedway has not been treated respectfully by the BSPA. I feel bitter towards the BSPA and that the three years of hard work trying to establish a decent team appears to have been a total waste of time and effort on behalf of a lot of people.”

14th February

Nick Mallett

“In all honesty, I simply don’t wish to be involved in this sport anymore after the way this club has been treated. But what I will say is that it is a disagreement which I feel could well have been avoided had this club been kept up to date with certain decisions which were made. I can also reveal that this is not the sole reason why I am leaving speedway, there are a number of factors away from the sport which demand my attention.”

related post about Tim Stone from April 2008 can be found here

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