TERRY Russell believes an air of calm has washed over the Abbey Stadium this year as Swindon Robins prepare to embark on their third consecutive appearance in the Elite League play-offs.
Last season’s run to the post season was overshadowed by financial issues which came to a head on August 22 2013, when the club’s riders only had one bike each in the pits for a meeting against Belle Vue in protest against the near £50,000 they were owed between them.
Loyal sponsors Pebley Beach and Excalibur stepped in to save the club in its hour of need and, a little over 12 months on, things could not be more different with every rider up to date on their pay packets while the club is also up with their stadium rent.
Things are still tight and every penny has to be fought for, as is the case at every speedway club in the country, but owner Russell is happy with the atmosphere around the club as they prepare to begin their third-straight play-off campaign on Monday, September 29.
“The season has been calmer all the way through, there’s not been riders turning up with one bike and there’s not been any rumours or stories coming out of the club because we’ve kept bang on,” Russell told Link Sport.
“The riders are up to date and aren’t waiting more than seven days to be paid, there are no issues there, and I think around the town we are getting a good name.
“The club is stable and the stadium rent is up to date, all the riders are being paid, but it’s still tight and a bit of a struggle because there are so many things affecting it.
“The weather gets to us so badly but there’s nothing we can do. People talk about covers but they can only save you if you get the right type of cover and can only save you from what comes during the day.”
“If you have those covers down all day and take it off just for racing then the track would be too dry, so it’s hard. We delayed a meeting by 15 minutes after a downpour recently, did some work and after four or five races it came good.”
A large amount of Russell’s focus is aimed at the planned new stadium at Blunsdon, with the club’s owner fully expecting work to be underway when the sport returns for the 2015 season. However, his desire to oversee the Robins’ move away from their historic home has postponed his plans for retirement.
“Over the last two years I’ve been winding down really, so all my plans to retire are going backwards now because I’m going to see through the move into the new stadium and I’m going to be there for that to happen,” he said.
“I’m in it for the longterm now whereas in the last two years I’ve thought I was leaning towards retiring.
“I’ve had an email from the owners of the stadium recently and we are going to meet this month to look at the plans, which have obviously been changed about a fair bit.
“We’re looking at very much being on the go and it will be well on the go by the time we come back for next season.
“I’m looking forward to a brand new facility although I’m sure lots of people will hold great memories and miss the old one.
“We will get a track in to the design that we want and a nice facility for the riders in the pits and the changing rooms, although I must say they are quite nice now.
“I went to Leicester for the first time recently for a meeting, although I’ve been there with Sky to have a look, but it’s a lovely place and they’ve done well," he said.
“I won’t criticise the track, although the straights are too long, but it’s a great place to watch and you can learn a lot from that."