Berry fears for future of Elite League
IPSWICH shale legend John Berry today added his voice to the current speedway debate when he said: “It is about time something happened to get rid of the sport's rose-coloured glasses syndrome.
By Elvin King
IPSWICH shale legend John Berry today added his voice to the current speedway debate when he said: “It is about time something happened to get rid of the sport's rose-coloured glasses syndrome.”
The man who ruled Foxhall Stadium during the Witches glory days from 1969 until 1984 still keeps a close watch on the English speedway scene from his home in Perth, western Australia.
Following the demise of Oxford earlier this week and reports that a couple of other Elite League clubs are also in trouble, Berry sees problems ahead for top level speedway in this country.
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He said: “Everyone believes their own publicity where everything in the speedway garden is rosy.
“It is about time something like the Oxford withdrawal happened to get rid of the sport's rose-coloured syndrome.
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“Looking at recent Elite League results I noticed six away wins in a row, which must surely be a record.
“And in the same week there were just four home victories and one draw.
“This is a sure recipe for disaster.
“So much for the success of the points equalisation scheme.
“In my opinion the Elite League is on dodgy ground anyway with the likely loss in the next year or two of the rest of the Grand Prix riders.
“If you asked me what I think the next move will be I have to suggest a Premier League divided into north and south.”
Berry, who has always been renowned for his forthright views, is one of the most respected speedway figures of recent times drawing crowds of over 10,000 to Foxhall during his time in charge of Ipswich.
While Oxford and Reading are two clubs attracting just 400 or 500 fans to meetings and Peterborough have not exactly seen house full notices this campaign, Ipswich's attendances have been averaging around the 1,400 mark this campaign despite being in the bottom two.
Although failing to have the pulling power of the wealthier clubs in the league like Poole, Coventry and Swindon, Ipswich have always been carefully run with a loyal and extensive fan base that will secure their long-term speedway future.
Berry sees no gain in following other sports and staging home meetings every fortnight.
He said: “It is just not a proposition. You would have Grand Prix riders spending 'squillions' on their equipment and racing four or five nights a week.
“The others would be struggling to maintain equipment and fitness on one meeting a week.
“And this discounts the sheer practicalities of each track only running 15 meetings a year and how they could cover their rent and overheads on such a small income.
“If it gets down to that, all non-GP riders would opt for the Premier League.”