Bandits offer reduced admission to woo fans

IN a bid to boost flagging attendances at Shielfield Park, Berwick Speedway are offering cut-price admission.

The Bandits recently went ‘public,’ admitting that crowd numbers had tailed off since the start of the season.

And in an effort to buck the trend, the club has hit on the idea of reduced entry fees, in the hope that it attracts more, and new fans to the sport.

There was no meeting at the Border track on Saturday because of the British Grand Prix at Cardiff - and a re-arranged meeting against Plymouth was staged on an alternative race night last Wednesday.

In a bid to increase attendances, the club offered virtually half price admission for adults, with children under 16 gaining entry for free.

Anderson admitted it was ‘a massive financial gamble,’ but he said it was something they had to do to see if they could attract more supporters, particularly non-regulars, along to meetings.

“The truth of the matter is we all want Berwick Speedway to survive,” said Anderson. “To that end we all have to remain focused.

“Speedway in general is struggling. I know it can be expensive for people to attend meetings every week, that is why we are trying to make it more affordable.

“Here at Berwick we have seen a reduction in gates since the start of the year.

“Financially we are just about washing our face, we have no outstanding debts, but another hundred or so through the gate every week would make it more viable.”

Anderson says the cost of attending meetings, particularly for families, along with a recent run of poor form and a catalogue of injuries, has forced some fans away from the sport.

“We are trying to come to terms with the carnage caused by all the injuries we have suffered. Home losses haven’t helped, but the one thing we are all agreed upon is that the future depends on how many people stick by us,” he said.

“We need fans to go out and encourage as many new people to come along to support us as well.”

According to Anderson the meeting against Plymouth attracted a bigger crowd, around 750, of which 560 were paying adults.

“It wasn’t enough to pay the bills, but it was a useful exercise,” said Anderson, “and I was generally pleased with the response.”

As a result Berwick have decided to repeat their cut-price offer for this Saturday’s home clash against local rivals Edinburgh.

All adults will pay £10 admission with children under 16, accompanied by an adult, admitted free.

“We don’t have to do this,” stressed Anderson, “but we want to try and guage if we can attract bigger crowds by keeping the prices down.

“It was a massive financial gamble to cut prices for the Plymouth meeting, but we said beforehand that if it was successful it was something we would look at again, and the meeting against Edinburgh gives us an ideal opportunity.

“In truth, the Edinburgh meeting would probably cover itself in any event, but we wanted to show everyone that we are committed to this.”

After a week off, Berwick will return to track action tonight at Sheffield in the league. Tomorrow (Friday) they are at Workington (a meeting switched from Bank Holiday Monday because of a lack of medical cover at Derwent Park), and on Saturday they face old rivals Edinburgh at Shielfield.

It’s a busy schedule and with several riders having been ruled out for the rest of the season there is a possibility that at least one new face may be included in the line-up, but at the time of going to print there had been no news from the club.