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THE ANDY WARREN COLUMN: Rider pay issue a widespread problem
6:00am Monday 26th August 2013 in Sport
IT’S good to hear the Robins riders are now looking to move on from the events of last Thursday’s meeting with Belle Vue, but you have to be quite naive to believe this is an issue isolated in Swindon.
We all know speedway needs to cut costs and adapt to survive, and what has gone on with the Robins in the last couple of days regarding unpaid wages has only served to highlight what we already knew.
Having spoken to riders from almost every club in the league at various times throughout this season I can tell you the Robins are certainly not the only team to have owed riders large amounts of money, while many individuals are owed substantially more by their clubs abroad. Furthermore, the Robins have always paid their riders at the same time and up to the same meeting, whereas that hasn’t always been the case elsewhere in the league where certain riders have been paid faster and more regularly than their own teammates.
Speedway is a close knit sport with a small pool of riders filling even fewer teams, and that means money for transfers, loans and meeting payments doesn’t pass through many sets of hands.
With that in mind if one club gets a cold there are multiple others who are likely to catch it, and that’s the problem with British speedway at the moment. Clubs are not likely to pay their riders for an away meeting until the host team from that meeting has sent their share over, and that build-up also has a part to play in the Robins’ recent problems.
Of course on the face of it it’s very easy to side with the riders on this issue. If either you or I wasn’t being paid by our employers we would probably not still be turning up to work, and just because the Robins riders are sportsmen why should they be any different?
Only Hans Andersen will ever know if his return of five points against the Aces was part of the point-proving plan, but I find it incredibly hard to believe it was because the only thing he would have hurt would have been his own bank balance. If it was, more fool him.
While the Swindon riders’ public display has brought this issue to a head, they are far from the only club with issues, and instead of finding reasons to knock the Robins we should be looking for solutions to make speedway sustainable.
If nothing more, the unsavoury incident goes to show how important this winter is going to be if our sport is going to be saved.
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