11 May 2021
The Dirt Xtra
It’s Tuesday night…and you know what that means. Speedway with crowds gets…
And so we continue to wait.
Saturday is big bang day in England and Wales – our independence day – with pubs, restaurants, holiday camps and hairdressers among those allowed to re-open, albeit with restricted numbers and with strict operating protocols in place.
Night clubs, bowling alleys, exhibition centres, swimming pools and indoor play areas remain off limits.
Personally disappointing is the continued closure of spas, tattoo parlours, nail bars and gyms. Will the torture never end.
As always Scotland is threatening to following its own path. Its government may ban English and Welsh holidaymakers but has yet to explain how a border which exists only as an administrative topographical line will perform this turnback.
But from British speedway’s point of view large gatherings remain forbidden – unless it involves the fight to end racial discrimination, Neo-Nazi statue defence or going to the beach in Dorset.
News that Leicester was being put into a localised lockdown rang alarm bells in the speedway community at a time when the rest of the racing world continues to make small steps towards some sort of 2020 season.
Fluid is a word perfectly suited for the current situation at a time when big decisions are being made daily, hourly and, often seemingly, on the hoof by which ever politician is “it” on any given day.
They may even have a plan. Who knows.
Elsewhere Poland is allowing crowds of up to 25 per cent of capacity at its football and speedway meetings, Denmark’s football cup final took place in front of 1,000 fans – but play had to be delayed when some refused to maintain social distancing – and Australia has announced plans to allow crowds of up to 10,000 at rugby and Aussie Rules fixtures in the near future. New Zealand has already lifted restrictions completely while the Republic of Ireland will allow gatherings of up to 500 from July 20.
In France September’s tennis Open championships anticipates running at 60 per cent capacity while Sweden – one of the few countries in the world to make a bigger mess than Britain of dealing with Covid-19 – will run an eight club, six man team season from August 11.
Russia and Czech Republic will also be racing by then but, as with Sweden, whether it will be in front of spectators remains a political work in progress.
As it is in Britain with clubs and riders ready to go, air bridges being built to welcome sporting commuters and fans chomping at the bit test cricket is due to begin behind closed doors with the sports’ administrators hoping that success there will allow them to persuade the lifting of bans on fans for the domestic game.
Obviously, that is a coat-tail worth riding for speedway.
So we sit and wait in hope – or go shopping, download an app to order a pint, sit down in a café or join the rest of the swine released from lockdown and dump all the litter hoarded in their houses since March in whatever beauty spot or town centre they choose to visit.
Surely it is just a matter of time. Maybe the BSPL needs to buy a few seats at the next Tory party fundraiser and leave a few brown envelopes next to selected ministers.
See if that greases the wheels.