Peterborough Panthers up for sale as Rathbone decides to call it a day

Panthers owner Ged Rathbone (left) and team manager Carl Johnson are walking away.
Panthers owner Ged Rathbone (left) and team manager Carl Johnson are walking away.
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Peterborough Panthers have been put up for sale today (October 9).

Owner Ged Rathbone will walk away from the city club at the end of the current SGB Championship season. Team manager Carl Johnson is also standing down.

Middlesbrough-based businessman Rathbone spearheaded a public fight to save Panthers from the brink of oblivion in late 2014. He later completed a full purchase of the club from previous owner Rick Frost.

But he feels the time is now right to sell up after a reign of four seasons which has included three team trophies – with the outside possibility of more silverware this term – and he has notified the British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) of his plans.

Rathbone said: “It’s been a fantastic time at Peterborough, but realistically I’ve known for a while that this would be my last season.

“I want to stress it is not a knee-jerk reaction to recent performances even though it is very frustrating to have seen us come so close to making history.

“It’s been an incredible season at times and it is certainly not beyond us to reach the play-off final, but we obviously have our work cut out in the KO Cup.

“I wanted to make this announcement to put fans in the picture before the weekend as there is a possibility that the meeting against Scunthorpe this Saturday could be the last speedway event at Peterborough.

“I desperately hope that is not the case, though. I’ll do all I can to ensure the club races on, but that obviously depends on the right person or people coming forward.

“I do have a great deal of finance tied up in the club so there is a small chance I could continue next year in certain circumstances, but that is certainly not my intention.

“It’s a three-hour trip here and back for every home meeting and it is a huge commitment. Running a speedway club is a hobby that quickly becomes a full-time job in addition to my full-time job!

“It’s 24/7 for 365 days of the year and that obviously has a knock-on effect on my business and family life.

“I’m very proud of the way the club has always broken even and how we have enjoyed success despite operating on a tight and sensible budget.

“We’ve also managed to attract some top stars to ride for Peterborough – guys like Scott Nicholls, Chris Harris, Kenneth Bjerre, Craig Cook and Jack Holder.

“I love the club, the supporters and everyone who helps to make speedway possible at Peterborough, and there will be plenty of other clubs who are envious of what we have achieved.

“I would never dream of knocking our fans, but seeing such low crowds for our last four home meetings – our biggest matches of the season – has really confirmed my decision to sell.”

“The BSPA have been informed the club is up for sale and the ideal scenario is a buyer coming forward before the AGM in mid-November.”

Rathbone’s reign featured success in the SGB Championship KO Cup and Fours last season before the club retained the latter crown this summer. Ulrich Ostergaard also won the second-tier individual riders’ crown back in 2015.

Rathbone has spoken glowingly of the contribution of team boss Johnson, a popular local man who also works tirelessly behind the scenes.

He added: “Myself and Carl have become close friends during our time working together.

“Of course we’ve had a few disagreements over the years, but we’ve always stood together while others have been and gone.

“What people don’t see is the amount of work he does for the club in addition to being team manager and, like myself, he has never taken a single penny out of the club. He doesn’t even claim mileage for going to places like Glasgow and Edinburgh.

“After working together for four years, we wanted to ensure the journey ended together at the same time.”

Anyone with a serious interest in purchasing the club should contact Rathbone by email at motivecar@yahoo.co.uk in the first instance.