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Dugard calls for speedway changes
Eastbourne boss Bob Dugard believes it is time to put a limit on jet setting riders.
He believes they should be restricted to riding in two countries.
But the Eagles supremo admits that can only happen if it costs less to race.
Dugard is convinced there could be a winter of change on the way in the sport as clubs find it tough to make ends meet.
Eagles’ attendances have dipped well below the target figure of 1,200 and they made a four-figure loss on their last home fixture against Peterborough.
But riders are also finding it hard to make the sums add up.
Many earn extra money by committing to clubs in several leagues across Europe on a freelance basis.
But that makes it hard for Elite League clubs to arrange their fixtures while fitting in with other nations and international meetings.
For example, any chance of Eastbourne going back to their popular Sunday afternoon slot would be blocked by the number of their riders who are in action on Poland on that day.
There is no suggestion that Eastbourne are looking at a permanent change of race day.
But they admit they will have to go off racenight to fit in their remaining fixtures.
That is likely to lead to reduced attendances which will hit them in the pocket.
They are not the only club struggling.
The end of speedway’s existing television deal with Sky Sports this autumn has further focused minds on how the sport can be improved.
Dugard said: “This has been a very tiring year for the management at Eastbourne.
“We’ve got a situation where we cannot even come up with a fixture list for the rest of the season because of a lack of dates.
“It seems the FIM, BSI and European speedway are doing everything to put obstacles in our way.
“There are so many international fixtures and it makes it virtually impossible to get riders who have aspirations to be international stars.
“And those are the riders we are looking to bring in.
“These are not good times. There is a doubt over TV revenue and that could have a major impact.
“The costs are way beyond the economic well-being of the clubs and riders are aware of that.
“But they are not making fortunes themselves. Equipment has become so expensive.”
Dugard believes riders would be more prepared to commit to just two countries if they knew they would get more meetings.
That would become more viable if costs could be cut.
He added: “There are two ways of going about it. If you want the biggest stars in the sport you offer just 12 meetings a season and hope they can fit them in.
“Otherwise you have to offer riders 40 fixtures, albeit on less money per point.
“I am 100% for restricting riders to two countries.
“But I know the riders will hate me suggesting it.
“You would ride in your home league and another one.
“If, for example, you’re an Australian over here you ride in the league of the country where you are based and one other league.
“That would simplify things and I think it would benefit the riders as well.
“I don’t think it does them any good flying from country to country to ride.
“There are skilled technical people looking at what can be done in terms of getting costs down.
“I’ve never known so much going on behind the scenes as there is at the moment.
“There is a sincere wish to improve things and that gives me a lot of encouragement.”