Ole Olsen: English speedway going downhill, says former world champion

Coventry Bees raced at Brandon for almost 90 years
Coventry Bees raced at Brandon for almost 90 years, from its opening in 1928

Former world champion Ole Olsen is worried for the future of speedway in this country following the problems suffered by his old club Coventry Bees.

The eight-times British champions have been told they cannot compete in the restructured Premiership in 2017 as they no longer have a proper home.

Denmark's Olsen, one of the game's greats, says English speedway is 'going downhill' and fears for the future.

"I don't think it's looking that good, particularly in England," Olsen said.

"Some other countries, they're booming," he told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire. "But, over the years, English speedway has been going downhill a bit.

"It has been sad to see. But I am also very pleased that I was a part of it when it was so great. I have fantastic memories of when we won the league.

The 70-year-old former Newcastle, Wolves and Bees rider added: "When I arrived, there were 22 clubs in the league. We played just once at each others' tracks, home and away.

"But now some of the tracks are not up to shape. Sadly, there has not been enough investment into the stadiums.

"England is still creating world champions like Tai Woffinden, at Wolves, so I don't know what's happened."

What future for Coventry Bees?

The British Speedway Promoters Association, who made the decision to put the Bees' licence 'on ice', are still optimistic about the club's future.

"I think there could be a new venue found, I really do," BSPA chairman Keith Chapman told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire.

"Who knows what could happen? If the right person could come in and bring it back to life, Brandon is one of the best venues in the country."

Coventry's problems are the latest to affect the club speedway scene.

Manchester side Belle Vue are on the up again after moving into the £8m National Speedway Stadium in March 2016, before being taken over last week.

But, although the Midlands can boast Wolverhampton Wolves as reigning league champions, having won the final Elite League title in 2016, the region has suffered.

Cradley Heathens, the 1981 and 1983 league champions, folded in 1996. And, although they reformed in 2010, they have been unable to secure their own permanent home.

Neighbours Birmingham have suffered financial problems in recent seasons, which cost them their place in the old Elite League.