Friday March 02, 2018
PETERBOROUGH co-promoter Ged Rathbone has moved to clarify the circumstances behind the start-time change for the Ben Fund Bonanza later this month.

The club have been forced to switch the meeting at the East of England Arena to a 6.30pm start on Sunday March 18, rather than the initially planned 2pm.

And Rathbone has urged supporters to still get behind the event, which has attracted a high-class field, with all proceeds going directly to the Fund to benefit injured riders.

He said: “We do understand people had made arrangements for a 2pm start, which would have been absolutely fine, and the change disappoints us just as much as the supporters.

“The simple reason is that there is another event going on at the Showground, and due to the size of crowd that is expected for the speedway, it can’t run alongside that other event, so we’ve been asked to move.

“The only realistic option we had was to put the start-time back, and we were actually asked to move it to 7.30pm, but we’ve been able to negotiate the time that we have. The only other option really would have been to cancel the meeting.

“We’re just as gutted from our own point of view as a lot of organisation has already gone into it, and we had a great many things planned for the day which are now going to have to be shelved.

“But we do have to understand how busy the Showground is, and as much as they look after us with the speedway, it’s a business to them and they have major events there.

“As soon as we were informed of the change we’ve gone live with it, and when you don’t own your own stadium and don’t have control of what happens, this is what you have to live with.

“I can only apologise again, it’s something we are disappointed about as well, but it is outside our control and now is the time to rally round and support the meeting.

“We have to remember what the meeting is for. It’s the Benevolent Fund meeting, and every penny from it goes to injured riders.

“The club, or any individual at the club, doesn’t get anything from it, so it’s a lot of hard work from my team at the stadium, and also a massive amount of time and effort has gone in from Paul (Ackroyd) and his staff in putting the field together that we have.

“We know it could inconvenience people for a few hours, but we beg them to still support it, because it’s for the riders. We still have to get behind it and make it the best possible event, and raise the most money possible.”

Rathbone has confirmed the intention will be to run a rapid meeting with the main event expected to take place within a two-hour window from the 6.30pm start.

He said: “Aside from any unforeseen incidents, there won’t be any meaningful breaks once the meeting starts.

“We have SCB members there who will work with us in the pits, as we’ve done with the Fours, and when one race is on-track the riders for the next will be ready, so we will move on with it.

“With a 6.30pm start we are realistically hoping to get the racing finished by 8.30pm, so people will hopefully be able to get underway for home by 9pm.

“So even if people are travelling a distance and live two or three hours away, we want them to be home by midnight – and I can assure them that I’ll be the last one out of the stadium, I’ll lock the doors and then I have a three hour drive home myself!

“I can only stress from both myself and Paul that so much work and effort has gone into this, with putting together the field we have done, and we really want people to support it.

“I do understand there’s going to be criticism, but there has to be a limit to that. We still want this to be a special meeting, and now it’s time to get behind it.”

Event organisers also politely remind supporters that if the change of start-time does mean they cannot attend, they can still support the Fund by making a donation at www.srbf.co.uk .

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