King’s Lynn Stars owner Keith Chapman says coronavirus pandemic is the biggest crisis speedway
King’s Lynn Stars owner Keith Chapman says the coronavirus pandemic is the biggest crisis speedway – and UK sport in general – has faced since he began as a promoter nearly 30 years ago.
The Adrian Flux Arena stadium is effectively in lockdown with speedway and stock cars mothballed due to the outbreak.
The speedway authorities last week confirmed the season has been delayed until at least April 15.
Chapman, nicknamed ‘Buster’, is also concerned that when the engines being revving in earnest again that fans will not be able to afford to attend meetings given that many jobs will be affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
He said in his experience: “It’s the biggest crisis, not just for speedway but for all sport in this country.
“It’s not about speedway, it’s about our country. There are a lot of people suffering.”
Chapman, who first became promoter at Lynn in 1992, feels for the riders who are not earning while the ban takes place: “Of course, it’s everybody.
“We had no choice because we had riders that were stuck abroad. We couldn’t put riders on track for a team. That was the problem.
“Michael Hartel arrived in this country but flew back to Germany.
“Robert Lambert was stuck in Poland, and we had another rider who was stuck in Poland.
“It’s the fact that we’ve got riders stuck in another country as well as medical issues.
“I was concerned about the medical cover, so it’s a crisis. I just find it a little bit harsh at times, but that’s my way of thinking. It’s absolutely crackers.”
Chapman is not worried that when the racing embargo is lifted, fans will have lost the habit of attending meetings, but the issue is whether they can afford it.
“All the youngsters and the young people with their mortgages and loans, families to run – what are they going to do. That’s what concerns me. They’re the ones I feel for at the moment.”
Now he has to sit tight and wait for racing to return – but stressed the matter is out of promoters’ hands.
The club boss added: “It’s nothing to do with the promoters. We’ve got to wait for the government to say you can run or you can’t. We’ve got to wait for them to tell us: Yes you can, use the medics, you can have crowds and what you want, and have the doctors what you need.
“We’re restricted now by what they tell us. It’s not what we want, it’s what the government tells us what we can or can’t do.”
Whether the stadium is in lockdown, he said: “It’s as good as, yes. We’ll carry on now with the work we’re doing.”
On the prospect of lay-offs, he commented: “No, not at the moment but it’s something we do need to discuss. Of course, that’s in the pipeline. You can’t carry on as you are.”
More by this authorGreg Plummer