PANTHERS CHIEF UPBEAT

Friday October 16, 2020
PETERBOROUGH supremo Ged Rathbone will head to the British Speedway Promoters' Association (BSPA) annual meeting this weekend confident that the Readypower Panthers will be back on track in 2016.

Rathbone and fellow promoter Trevor Swales will represent the club as the sport’s bosses gather round the table to thrash out the rules and regulations for next season.

The North-East businessman has overseen a pleasing first campaign at the Panthers helm as his team frequently overcame the odds to reach the semi-finals of the play-offs despite being plagued by injury problems.

Rathbone said: “We have spoken as a management team during this week about our plans for next season.

“We will know a lot more about where we stand after the AGM this weekend, but I think it is fair to say there is a massively realistic chance of us being back on track in 2016.

“We are all very keen to build on what has been a very good season even though it did come complete with the big disappointing of missing out on a place in the Premier League final.
“It was, however, a season we would all have gladly taken had it been offered to us last winter when working so hard to ensure we would be at the tapes.

“The success and the support since then – culminating in two fantastic crowds for our home meetings during the play-offs – has confirmed to me that speedway belongs in Peterborough.

“It has also been a good season financially in as much as we managed to meet our objectives of ensuring all our bills were paid on time and in full. We’ve done that despite the fact we are still owed money from several clubs.

“We do still have work to do though with regard to 2016 as we need to have meetings with our landlords at the East of England Showground and with the owners, Rick Frost and Julie Mahoney, who are also our main sponsors through their Readypower business.“

Rathbone hopes the current management team featuring Swales and joint team bosses Dale Allitt and Carl Johnson will remain intact for 2016. Sports therapist Lauren Wood is also wanted on board again next year.

And Rathbone also intends to continue building a fine relationship with the club’s fans. He will urge his rival promoters to follow his lead and enhance supporter engagement during the BSPA annual meeting.

Rathbone added: “We have a great team of people who work extremely hard – seven days-a-week in some cases – for the club.

“None of them take a single penny for their time, travel or expenses and they should be applauded for their contributions.

“And the fans who have turned out so consistently – and in such good numbers – this season also deserve praise.

“We couldn’t have done it with them and we really appreciate their backing. We will continue to do everything we can to give our supporters value for money and we also have to provide them with a purpose.

"We haven't done it perfectly by any means, but we have made good progress on those fronts. Introducing new things such as the public track-walk which cost us nothing but meant a hell of a lot to the supporters.

"All clubs need to do more to engage the fans rather than alienate them. It is an expensive sport to watch and we are competing with plenty of other sports, activities and attractions for people's money.

“We have to make sure speedway stands out from the crowd and that is the point I will be pressing home at the AGM."

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