THE OWNER of Swindon's Abbey Stadium has explained why speedway was no longer viable at the Blunsdon track.

Clarke Osbourne owns Stadia UK, which is the operator of the local sporting venue, and is currently overseeing the redevelopment of the site for greyhound racing, but crucially not for Speedway.

Recently, Mr Osbourne has been giving evidence during a planning inquiry into whether or not housing developers should be allowed to demolish the derelict Coventry Stadium. During this, he commented further on the situation in Swindon, as reported by the Speedway Star. 

He said Speedway not returning to Abbey Stadium was "financial" and down to the "inability" of it to pay its own way, especially when compared to the growth in income from broadcasting greyhound racing.

"Many years ago it was relatively straightforward. Greyhound racing was licensed to run twice per week and two-and-a-half times a week it was restricted," he explained.

"Then restrictions were lifted, greyhound racing was only restricted by the number of meetings it could run profitably. Most racecourses moved to three times per week and that is throughout the year."

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Other events like Speedway and stock car racing would then fill the gaps in the schedule.

This has changed though, he explained, because of an increase in greyhound racing being broadcast into betting shops which has made live attendances "virtually irrelevant".

"The attendance at greyhound racing has fallen off and a number of racecourses have closed because it is not possible to support greyhound racing without a media contract, with the costs it is just not possible.

"The media contracts have increased and by increasing the number of meetings that are covered, racecourses - and Swindon is one - actually use up the time available to them for greyhound racing. They also become more conscious, if you like, of their TV image.

"In Swindon's case, at one stage, we moved up to five meetings per week. With speedway, it could just not produce a sufficient level of income to make it worthwhile.

"Speedway in Swindon is restricted by the number of events it can operate, so there were no further opportunities for speedway itself to raise increased money. They could just not run profitably overall, so it didn't happen."

The Robins announced the departure from their long-term home in September last year, stating the decision had been made because "Speedway racing cannot achieve anything like a break-even financial position, short or long term" there. 

Following this, Mr Osbourne has set up a joint company with Swindon Speedway called Swindon Motorsport Ltd with the aim of finding a new venue for the local team.