SWINDON’S home match with Belle Vue last night was marred by a number of the Robins riders making a stand to highlight the fact they are owed significant amounts of money by the Blunsdon club.
Captain Hans Andersen, Troy Batchelor, Peter Kildemand and Edward Kennett each only had one bike in the pits for the 48-42 defeat to the Aces, highlighting the fact they are owed a combined sum believed to be around £50,000 which dates back eight weeks.
The riders and management met before the meeting to discuss the issue, where they were reassured the payments would be made as soon as possible.
Club sponsors Excalibur and Pebley Beach have both put extra money in to help cover the shortfall, which Robins co-owner Gary Patchett says is in no small part caused by the late payment of the latest slice of television money from Sky Sports which is worth more than £20,000.
Patchett confirmed to the Advertiser the club are behind on the payments to their riders, but added much of the problem was due to the late payment of the Sky television money as well as the club’s success on the track.
“Speedway is an expensive sport, and the more successful you are the more expensive it is, and we are doing all we can to finish top of the table so it’s an expensive club to run at the moment and it’s proving hard to balance the books,” he said.
“The problem isn’t helped by the fact we budget and predict our cash flow for incoming payments around our television money which is due on specific dates, and that’s overdue at the moment and we’ve been told not to expect it until August 30.
“Every club is in that position in that respect, and we told the riders that and have kept them informed, and with those funds in hand the liability to our riders would be 50 per cent less than it is. If that money had been with us now the conversation we had with the riders before the meeting would have been very different.
“We told them the situation, and we hope they have taken that on board. We’re grateful we’ve had some fantastic sponsors in Excalibur and Pebley Beach who have helped us through the issue we have at the moment.”
The Advertiser spoke to BSPA vice chairman Jon Cook last night, who confirmed the latest instalment of Sky money remains outstanding to every club in the league.
Robins captain Hans Andersen was disappointed to have to make the stand, but insisted it was necessary to highlight to the club’s fans the situation they find themselves in.
Speaking on behalf of the team, he said: “The riders only had one bike in the pits, not as a protest but to show the situation we are in.
“Sometimes we get criticised for having a bad meeting, but sometimes it’s due to some of us not being paid. Some of the riders can’t afford new clutch plates because they’re skint, and can’t service engines when they want to because they are not being paid.
“We hope things will be a lot better by next week as we have been promised, and we will all carry on putting in our best for Swindon.”