Speedway champions Peterborough Panthers are embroiled in a desperate race against time to save next season and remain in the city.
The club has been rocked by an announcement from the Asset Earning Power Group (AEPG), the owners of the East of England Arena and Events Centre, that its grandstand and race track are to be pulled up to make way for a £50 million housing and leisure village development.
But club bosses say they are determined to remain in the city and have called for urgent talks with Peterborough City Council in a bid to find a new home.
The club along with other major outdoor events have been told they will have to find a new venue or reduce in size to stay at the Arena after July 1 next year.
But July 1 is in the midst of the Panthers’ season, which runs from March to October, and means the current season could be their last if an alternative venue is not agreed.
The Panthers have raced at the site continuously since 1970 and when they won the league title last autumn several thousand spectators watched them secure the title.
A spokesman said: “Talks will be taking place in the coming weeks to determine the next phase for the Panthers, with the firm intention of the club continuing in 2023 and beyond.
"We are negotiating a future plan for the next phase of Peterborough Speedway as a community club driven for the people, and the club owners will be leading ongoing discussion with Peterborough City Council for a longer-term solution.
“Representatives of the club will be pursuing meetings with members of Peterborough City Council and arena operators AEPG as a matter of urgency.
“It is important to note that the East of England Showground development is a work in progress as the owners proceed with their application.
“We wish to formulate a plan to ensure the speedway team remains an integral part of the growth and redevelopment of Peterborough.
“The Panthers, who are the reigning Premiership champions racing at the top level of the sport bringing International stars to the city on a regular basis, are a massive part of the local community.
“Indeed, on occasions in the past, supporters have mobilised in order to ensure the sport’s continuation, and there have always been strong links between club ownership and the fans.”
AEPG revealed yesterday they were in talks with the organisers of a number of major outdoor shows, which have long been favourites with the public, about finding new venues or ‘changing dramatically’, from July 1 next year.
Pamela Newbould, Head of Events at the East of England Arena, said: “We will have to say farewell to some fantastic outdoor shows we've worked with over the years, and not without sadness, but as our venue evolves to meet the needs of modern events and experiences, we are very excited for the future of shows, conferences and exhibitions at The Arena."