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British Speedway : Premier League Last Updated: Nov 28th, 2010 - 10:22:29


Oxford Speedway: Allen Trump tells why
By Nick
Dec 16, 2007, 21:04

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Allen Trump has now expanded on his reasons for withdrawing from the Oxford Cheetahs for the 2008 season. He said today:

"It was with a heavy heart that I finally came to the conclusion at 5pm on Friday afternoon that the GRA were not going to contact me or respond to my last email. I deliberately kept away from the media on Friday so as not to inflame the situation but unfortunately I heard nothing whatsoever from the GRA so I was unable to meet the Premier League deadline of 5pm on the 14th December. As a result I had no option but to withdraw as promoter of Oxford Speedway and hopefully other parties will be more successful in obtaining an agreement with the stadium owners.

I became involved with the Cheetahs in June 2007 for two reasons, firstly, to ensure the continuity of this great club and put it on a sound financial basis and secondly to restore the team to a higher level of speedway.
I believe that we restored confidence and stability in Oxford and as a result the club achieved my main goal which was a return to a higher level of speedway in the 2008 Premier League on a unanimous vote by Premier League promoters. In addition I lifted the club out of the financial crisis it was in and by the end of the 2007 season the Cheetahs were solvent with no debt.

To achieve all of this in just four months is a testament to many people too numerous to mention but they know who they are. They should all be proud of what we achieved, the saving of Oxford speedway, its promotion to the Premier League,  a club which at the end of October was debt free and the resurrection of speedway in the city.
When I became involved with Oxford I was told by the local GRA manager that if the previous promotion's arrears were not settled then speedway would be closed and the track tarmaced over for stock cars. This was the first time that I'd heard this threat but not the last. Therefore for four months speedway I paid £15,000 arrears plus the rent of £1,000 per meeting totalling £30,000. I believe that figure alone established my goodwill to the GRA.

Oxford Stadium is one of a number owned by Risk Capital Partners through the GRA. The stadiums were bought for approximately £52m and were recently put on the market for around £100m. That type of uncertainty does not help however I understand that the stadiums have now been withdrawn from sale. It is clear that the GRA are seeking to maximise the income from Oxford Stadium and as a businessman myself I understand the need to maximise asset income. However other than as a means of producing income for the group I do not believe that Risk Capital see speedway as anything more than an income producing entity whereas the rest of us love the sport and want to see it continue at Oxford. 

Recently the GRA have alienated me with their non-communication and what I perceive to be arrogance. I have sent the GRA thirteen emails with proposals and deadlines and I have received just two in return one of which was an acknowledgement and the other effectively rejecting my latest proposals. In addition I have made a number of calls and received just one substantive call back informing me that the rent would be doubled to £2,000 per week.

The GRA have not responded to any of the deadlines and I believe they have deliberately or uncaringly withdrawn from communication. It was as a result of their non communication on the latest deadline that I concluded there was no further point in my trying to continue dialogue.

I would like to focus on the main problems any promoter is faced with at Oxford:

1. Whilst the doubling of the rent to £2,000 per meeting is a major obstacle, it is not the only problem. Oxford speedway does not have any security whatsoever at the stadium. It merely has a verbal permission from the GRA to operate season by season with rent reviews each season at the GRA's discretion. Therefore even if I accept the rent hike for 2008 I have no control over any rental increase for 2009 or even confirmation that we won't be kicked out at the end of 2008. In short the Oxford Cheetahs do not enjoy the basic legal protection that residents in rental property have because the GRA have put nothing in writing and as a result an Oxford promoter does not have an enforceable lease.

2. I asked for a three year lease with increases linked to inflation to prevent what has become an annual winter battle with the GRA. This was refused based on the "commercial sensitivities of the profitability of speedway". In other words speedway can have no security because the GRA want to retain the right to increase the rent as and when it suits them.

3. I asked the GRA to make the stadium more user friendly. I was warned that the stadium was an expensive place for speedway patrons to eat and drink. I saw this at first hand with drinks at around £3 per pint and inflated food prices for speedway meetings. My detailed proposals to make the stadium more user friendly and increase the bar and restaurant take were rejected. My proposals would have substantially increased the bar take and in effect subsidised the stadium rent.

4. I asked for confirmation that we would have the GRA's support in what had become a constant difficulties with the Go-Kart operator on re-arranged speedway dates. With up to 28 meetings for 2008 and at least five clubs clashing on potentially the same night as Oxford and with the possibility of rain-offs I needed to know that we would have first choice of the limited available dates bearing in mind greyhound racing takes up three nights plus a Sunday afternoon and the Go-Karts can book up to a month in advance. The GRA declined to help.

To run Premier League speedway at Oxford in 2008 would have cost in excess of £250,000. Bearing in mind the financial risk that entails it was essential to be able to establish a commercial set-up in Oxford to create a sponsorship base. To achieve that goal a three year deal was the minimum requirement with the GRA.
Oxford Speedway has been cursed by the insecurity of its year by year arrangement with the stadium and as a result support has eroded, I was hoping to plan for the longer term.

The GRA are fixated on doubling the rent and continuing the uncertainty of the speedway operation. The relationship between the Cheetahs and the GRA should be one of landlord and tenant and not servant and master as is the current state of affairs. In addition to my publishing interests I own some three hundred properties most of which I rent out and I can honestly say that I do not have one single agreement as one sided, unfair and insecure as the verbal dictat issued by the GRA to Oxford Speedway.

There is far more to the story than I have detailed but I'm sure that having read the above any fair-minded person would have questioned my sanity if I had continued into 2008 under the draconian obstacles encountered.   

I can assure all Oxford fans that I will do all in my power to assist anyone who wishes to move this matter on to a successful conclusion.

Allen Trump"


BUT, AS PREVIOUSLY STATED FANS VOW TO FIGHT ON....

As previously circulated Oxford supporters are determined to do anything and everything they can to prevent the club closing for good following the news that 2007 promoter Allen Trump will no longer be involved.

Fans representatives have contacted BSPA chairman Peter Toogood and Chris Brown, an integral part of the Save Our Speedway (SOS) organisation has vowed, "We haven't given up hope of saving this famous club, now will we, and we're in dialogue with Peter and have also tried to contact the GRA and hope we can speak to them shortly.

"Peter Toogood confirmed to me that the BSPA will be looking at every possible way to keep Oxford Speedway running at Sandy Lane.

"As I said, we will NOT give up hope!"


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