Peterborough Panthers hold city centre rally as consortium plans return to racing at Showground in 2025
Fans of Peterborough Panthers Speedway club gathered in their numbers in Cathedral Square on Saturday afternoon as the battle to save the club goes on.
The Panthers are currently without a home after being evicted from the Showground ahead of proposals to completely develop the site were submitted by the East of England Agricultural Society’s agents AEPG.
The club has raced continuously at the Showground since its formation in 1970, 53 years ago.
Two separate applications, one for 650 new homes and another for 850 new homes as well as a hotel, school and leisure village. At present, almost 2000 objections have been submitted to these proposals.
A six person consortium, consisting of Carl Johnson, Mick Bratley, Michael Tomalin, Dave Hewitt, Andy Fairchild, Josh Hewitt, are locked in talks with current owner Keith Chapman to purchase the club with the intention of pushing towards restarting racing at the Showground in 2025.
It was confirmed at the rally that there would be no speedway in the city in 2024 as the deadline for entry into the league has already passed.
The rally was well attended and saw a number of passionate fans turn out to hear speeches from consortium members as well as Orton Waterville ward councillor Juile Stevenson who has joined the campaign to save the Panthers.
Councillor Stevenson said: “ We need to save speedway in Peterborough for so many reasons. Speedway is a lovely family sport, it’s lovely to see generations of people together.
"What matters most of all is being able to build communities together and being able to support each other, talk to each other and being able to share in our pastimes together.
"I do wonder if these developers have any idea about community at all. We’ve got to fight for that. This is just the start of a process. It’s really important not to give up and say that everything is decided.
"It’s not a giving up moment, there’s plenty of course left to run with this. This is a cause well worth fighting for, if you let them take the speedway, what are they going to take next?"
Former team manager, promoter and consortium member Carl Johnson said: “We are doing all we are doing to make sure we still have a club. To be realistic, next season is not going to happen, we’ve missed the deadline so we’re looking at being back on track at the Showground at 2025.
"We want this club back on track in 2025 at the Showground, our home, that’s where we belong.
“We’re fighting for everyone. It;s been part of my life for 41 years, we want to see all of the faces that have turned out back in 2025 supporting us.”
Consortium member Mick Bratley said: “The Showground development is being led as a leisure led development. We want to be part of that leisure.
"We don’t need golf ranges or health and wellness, we want a speedway track on there whether it’s in the place it is now or it’s somewhere else, we don’t care. You tell us and we’ll build it.”
Fellow consortium member Josh Hewitt added: “I would love the track to stay where it is but AEPG have very different views. We need to do as much as we can to persuade them to keep speedway alive in the city.
“The ideal solution would be to keep the track there, maybe move it away from the stand a bit, add an athletics track, football pitches, there’s so much scope there that would keep sporting institutions in the city alive and speedway should be part of that.”
The Showground track has a reputation for being one of the best in the country and the consortium has also confirmed that its exact measurements have been taken so that any potential new track can be build to the same specifications.