Belle Vue Aces were handed great news by the British Speedway bosses this week, as the announcement was made that the Manchester club had been saved from possible extinction, thanks in large to the combination of the British Speedway Promoters Association (BSPA) and the Manchester City Council, as they found a solution to keep everyone happy and keep the most famous name in British Speedway history on the shale.
October 31st of last year saw the start of this messy situation beginning to unfold, when one of the Belle Vue C.E.Os in David Gordon stepped down from his role at the club and left the club with immediate affect. However the following days after Gordon’s decision to quit the Aces then saw shocking revelations coming out of the club, with the league bosses dropping a huge bombshell on the club. It was said by a joint statement with the BSPA and Manchester City Council, that Belle Vue’s promotion hadn’t paid rent on their new stadium and that also included details of riders not being paid either.
This in turn saw the BSPA making the decision to revoke the license of the Belle Vue club as it was and also against the promotion of the club namely, David Gordon and Chris Morton. Belle Vue and speedway fans in general, were left wondering how on earth this had gone on for so long and saw a slight divide with people backing the words of the promotion and the other half on what the Council and speedway authorities were saying. Gordon had gone to the local newspaper and waxed lyrical on how the club suffered tremendous losses on opening night due to the contractors not doing their job correctly and trying to absolve himself and the club from all that went on that ill-fated night.
Since November the club has practically been left in limbo and have had a great deal of uncertainty over the future of the club status not just in the Elite League, but also in the sport too. That all changed though this past week, with the news breaking that the Aces future had been secured but just leaves a few questions remaining on a number of things. One huge question that hasn’t been addressed as of yet, is just who are the new management that have taken on, as it seems to date a thankless task of restoring not just the Aces side on the track, but mostly off the track too. The opening meeting saw the clubs great name dragged through the mud and tarnished ever since then, and despite hosting a successful World Cup Final event last year too, the scars of that night are still on show and hurt Belle Vue to this day within the Speedway fraternity.
In early December and to use a different take on a famous quote from William Shakesphere when speaking on the on-goings of British Speedway this winter, then the term “Now is the Winter of our discontent” would prove to be an idea motto for the sport on this off season. It was always mentioned throughout the winter by speedway bosses that Belle Vue would in some way, shape or form be riding next season in some state and gave hope to the fans of seeing some speedway at their new home.
However with three teams struggling this winter with one of them being Belle Vue, the remaining two in Leicester Lions and the Coventry Bees, have saw the Leicester side being saved and saw a turbulent one for Coventry. The Bees had completed their line up way before Christmas time and this then led to Brandon Stadium where the Bees call home, being gutted and leaving the club homeless. This has since led to at the time I’ve written this blog, still having a massive uncertainty on the state of play for the Coventry with two months away from the start of the new season.
Also in December news came out of the AGM for the National League, that both Belle Vue and Coventry would be co-sharing a team in the competition next year. Confused, you will be. Manchester to Coventry is not particularly close to one other in truth, with both sides having to drive 2 hours and 7 mins from their respective stadiums door to door. It was also revealed that the fixtures would be split between the two teams as well, as this was released when Belle Vue was still trying to find investors for the club and had Coventry starting to go through the process of what was happening at their home.
For now Belle Vue fans are just awaiting to see who is their new management team going forward at the National Speedway Stadium and have all but locked in four riders reported for the new season, after the team came agonisingly close yet again to a first league title since 1993. Those riders reportedly reserved by the Aces are in the form of the Worrall brothers Steve and Richie, Australian youngster Max Fricke and one of Great Britain’s heroes last year in the World Cup in Craig Cook.
Another huge question is what is the situation with the Team Manager’s job, as Mark Lemon who had done a remarkable job to lead the Aces to back to back grand final appearances against Poole and Wolves respectively, currently awaiting like us to see if he is asked back to work with the new promotion. This will be their 89th consecutive season in the sport, and remains the longest if not the longest running speedway club not only in Britain but also the world, and they are very lucky to have made it to eighty-nine years after the chaos this winter for sure.