George Dodds's picture

Breaking news hot off the wires.
Credible reports emanating from the North Pole suggest that Santa has been inundated by letters from England’s most northerly town.
It seems that all they want for Christmas in the real north is a 15 Match Season Pass.
Over to the BBC’s North of North of England correspondent Gideon Smugberger.
“Well Kirsty it appears that the newly anointed leader of the Berwick Bandits – a fiercly loyal but often war-like and argumentative tribe which, despite being established in the Borders for over half a century, had seen its continued existence under threat from difficult trading conditions – has come out all guns blazing.
“Baron Jamie de Courtney – born in the town but now a prominent member of the Oxfordshire streets paved with gold belt – has devised an offer so stupendous that grown men were reduced to tears and women have been captured on CCTV expressing undying love for strangers in the street.
“In a surprise development Courtney the younger also persuaded the decision-making Big Plump Santa Axis to suspend its previously strict qualification criteria until January 9.
“As a result hundreds of supporters previously excluded after testing positive for naughty – largely those on the third bend and the D Block seats – now qualify for the near 47 per cent (£93.50) saving alongside those frequenting the back straight Ducket Tea Bar, Bistro and Grill who have long been identified as the epitome of nice.
“Industry expert Francis Carson says that the offer is “a cracker”, Scotland’s First Minister declared it “Fandabidozi”, Little Mix believe that it would be worth peeping into any stocking for and Alexander Armstrong is strongly of the opinion that to ignore the deal would be Pointless.
“Now back to the studio for more meaningless Brexit posturing by faceless politicians whose resignation from the cabinet is the first time you were ever aware that they actually existed.”
Well it’s always nice to see speedway get a rare mention on the BBC but, as always, it is left to others to fill in the gaps.
Namely that those qualifying for concessions will pay £149 before January 9 and after that the cost of the pass rises to £229 – just over £15 per meeting (£179 concessions) which still represents exceptional value for money as all prices quoted include a match day programme.
Some would say that the programme alone is worth the new walk-up admission prices of £17 for adults, £13 concessions, kids for a quid but there may be a few oddballs who desire an additional speedway team built around three bouncy Aussies, Austria’s number one, a strong candidate for Main Dane 2019, an Italian-Argentinian and one of Britain’s hottest teenage talents to justify the outlay.
Each to their own I suppose.
Nicolaj – who is adding Pirating to his Banditry this season – is also responsible for one of the biggest business stories of the off-season as he managed to persuade David Howe to become his mentor/mechanic/man to be shouted at in the pits which means that another member of the 2018 posse will be back in tow next season. Only Theo is missing – a victim of the dreaded points limit.
Anyway just in case Santa suffers a flat reindeer on December 24 or gets sidetracked and dragged into Bedrocks, you can buy your own season pass online from the Bandits website.
As it happens the man behind the deal of this and any other decade pulled few punches when he told the recent fans’ forum that the previous model of £15 Shielfield Super Saturdays was unsustainable and that, much as he loved the idea of running speedway in his home town when it comes down to it Jamie’s vision of the future sees the Bandits as another self-sustaining business in his portfolio and not one subsidised from his other profitable ventures.
He had already given many fans the ideal Christmas present by cutting short what had looked likely to be a tense winter of uncertainty but announcing that the Bandits would run in 2019 and that he would be at the helm.
The riders have already played their part – not just by re-signing but by accepting terms more in keeping with a sustainable product.
It’s a blueprint that many other teams in speedway should be following but viewing many of the declared septets it seems likely that a good number will once again perform the “your cheque’s in the post honest guv” routine which has left a number of riders hopelessly out of pocket over the past few seasons.
One interesting snippet of information revealed by Jamie at the Black and Gold love-in was that the Bandits have previously had the lowest number of season ticket/pass holders in the whole of British speedway.
That must surely be about to change.
A major benefit to clubs of these season passes is that it gives them an influx of cash at a time when income is traditionally low and outgoings high.
Before a wheel is turned things such as licences, insurance, shale, track and infrastructure maintenance and renewal have to be taken care of.
It’s all change at Shielfield with a number of further initiatives on the horizon – including the launch of a new supporters club.
All this and more will be revealed in the run-up to season 52.
In the meantime: “dear Santa, it’s been a while since I wrote to you but I have been relatively good, except for a short period when I had to go to Brough Park every Monday and laughing at Sunderland’s relegation to Division three, but that aside I wonder if…