Unresolved Legal Issues Cloud Gelsenkirchen Post Mortem
Widely seen as the man with the real brainpower in the team of all talents that makes up the BSI management team, Paul ‘Really Important’ Bellamy (Managing Director BSI) has kindly deigned to be savagely quizzed on the SGP (including the Gelsenkirchen fiasco) in this week’s Speedway Star. Billed on the front cover of the magazine as “Bellamy in the dock”, it’s a surprise to find that Philip Rising – who financially benefits from the FIM/SGP circus as the SGP Press Officer – conducts the investigative analysis and questioning! In speedway, we don’t expect Watergate levels of independence but, surely, this is only one small step removed from John ‘Very Important’ Postlethwaite conducting things? Hang onto your sleuthing caps, in fact the questions posed do sound suspiciously like the speedway equivalent of the oral cuddles recently administered by West Ham, never mind that they’re sometimes relentlessly anodyne enough to have been composed by the BSI Press Office team.
Actually, to be fair, Paul Bellamy’s bare feet are grotesquely beaten Midnight Express style by Philip Rising in a vain attempt to puncture the complacent management speak and elicit some vaguely honest answers. Indeed, we quickly learn that the fabled oft promised “post mortem” has finally started – hurrah! We’re goggle eyed to discover it’s “still an ongoing process but a number of valuable lessons have been learnt”. Blimey! What are they? (‘Don’t talk to strangers’? ‘Look before you leap’? Cover your shale?) Sadly, this “post mortem” is still mostly a case of Not In Front Of The Children because of ominous sounding but unspecified “legal issues to be resolved”.
Still, during the “process”, probably conducted in an identikit office building in Southern England, souls have been cleansed. However, while the information “gleaned” from “considerable time and energy going over everything” is digested, we’re reassured by news that luckily “no stone is being left unturned”. We can all sleep safe in our beds tonight knowing that Our Man with the Plan, Paulie Bellamy, along with The Man with the Vision, Johnny Postlethwaite, are on the case and will safeguard the interests of the fans and speedway alike.
BSI have decided (and also have sufficient “ambition” to “achieve”) that the quality of indoor tracks could be an “ongoing process” worth a look at possibly solving – costs willing – before they’ve been in charge for a decade. Fortunately BSI have experience, “we know how tracks perform under conditions” and Paulie B boasts they’ve “put in 18 temporary tracks” over these past years. True enough – pretty well all of them execrable, some unrideable but then, every cloud has a silver lining, so let’s luxuriate in the congratulations of the riders for the one they finally got right in 2008 in Copenhagen. Doubles all round!
Mr. Rising reveals that, apparently, “conspiracy theories” have erroneously claimed that “poor ticket sales” led to the cancellation of the 2008 Gelsenkirchen GP. Paulie elegantly dismisses these rumours out of hand as “false” and we believe him (“ticket sales were not that bad, we would have been all right”). I don’t know of anyone worrying if Paulie B or Johnny P were “all right”, though questions have been raised about their competence, people skills and customer relations. Paulie then accidentally reveals that all speedway fans are really just fodder, “we would never have to cancel an event because of poor ticket sales. They only make up a portion of the revenue, there is TV money, sponsorship and, of course, the reputation of the series.” (Just because IMG spectacularly overpaid for said “reputation” appears to fool Paulie into an inflated idea of its worth that, sadly, we won’t see tested in the open market).
Interestingly, Concrete for Breakfast (p. 274) has this quote on Gelsenkirchen 2007, “They say the staging costs at any Grand Prix varies between £230,000 and £280,000 – that was £280k excluding prize money. It was never expected to make any money. They say the attendance was 25,000 but they gave away loads of tickets just to boost the numbers because the capacity is 66,000.” Unless things altered dramatically in 2008, then the German GP was always budgeted to make a loss! So really, Paul Bellamy provides us all with a whole new definition of “all right” for the Credit Crunch Age. Namely, “all right” = financial loss, it’s definitely one that the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary should incorporate forthwith.
Through diligent questioning, we learn Paulie’s favourite colour is green (the colour of money) but also of the hierarchy that affects speedway at the Grand Prix level since Paulie B reveals that speedway fans are “really important” but “our TV partners” are “very important”. In fact, the TV partners ensure that live SGP flickers unwatched on televisions in sports bars in 30 countries or its highlights packages get shown during the dead of night in 100 countries. Paulie calls these “new markets” and, note the use of the singular, where the SGP finds a “new audience” (something that sounds suspiciously like a patient in a coma).
Later there’s a wonderfully post-modern moment in the questioning when, without apparent irony, Philip Rising queries whether Ole Olsen has a conflict of interests with regard to the SGP 2009 round to be staged at Vojens. These baseless allegations are rightly denounced by Mr. Bellamy with some piffle about the “Danish market” thrown in for good measure to make things sound well thought out.
Like a new philosophical theory, the interview answers Paulie B provides are all too linguistically complex to drink in all at once but will be revisited when the “post mortem” results are finally announced.