I have been personally involved in supporting Swindon Speedway since the initial campaign to block the closure in 2008.

To save the stadium, it was agreed housing adjacent to the stadium could be built if the stadium remained open and ultimately modernised (new stand etc). At the time this was a huge relief and Swindon Speedway carried on with many years of success.

As fans were nervous about the stadium owners' intentions, it was agreed that the final phase of planned housing (where the stadium owners get a financial share) could only proceed once the stadium works have been completed. Swindon Council repeatedly held firm on this.

Whilst speedway continued, works to upgrade the stadium never materialised despite repeated promises / false starts. Covid then hit, speedway was paused, and all seemed lost.

Perhaps to many people’s surprise the long awaited new stand appeared ready for construction earlier in the year – finally we seemed set to get the promised new stand and associated works. After a flurry of work, again progress stalled. We all continued to press for action, or at least updates.

Finally, this week it was confirmed that Swindon Speedway would not be able to proceed as the stadium would not re-open, triggered by an expected loss of the greyhounds. Speedway only operates 20 nights per year, paying a relatively small amount of rent, so the stadium is reliant on the greyhound TV money to remain viable.

It is important to understand the stadium is privately owned so no-one can force them to either complete the stadium works or operate speedway.

However, Swindon Council are rightly still refusing to relax the conditions, so if the stadium owners cannot complete the works, the final phase of housing will remain blocked. Taylor Wimpey was set to start, as the owners had promised them stadium works would shortly be completed. They have now been told that works cannot proceed.

Both Swindon Council and I will make sure that the owners cannot escape the planning conditions.

So, what happens now? Firstly, nothing. This isn’t ideal for anyone – more seasons pass with Swindon Speedway unable to compete, fans drift away making it harder for them to return competitively – especially in the wider context of the challenges national speedway is facing with declining crowds and deteriorating finances.

Secondly, the stadium owners may have to accept the work needs to be completed to unlock the housing. This would be very welcome but doesn’t guarantee how long the stadium would then continue to operate.

Thirdly, the stadium owners have suggested an alternative site is found. This is nonsense, the Abbey Stadium has been perfectly suitable all these years and is surely easier to modernise than starting from scratch in some unknown location.

Finally, the owners could and should actively seek to sell the stadium to someone who could complete the works and find other uses to sit alongside speedway to make it financially viable. Would this work, is there a potential buyer? Only time will tell, but for the sake of generations of fans it is only right this is explored fully and urgently. The stadium looked lost in 2008, let’s hope another last-minute saviour comes forward.