Speedway: Tigers owner would consider Elite League switch

Damien Bates
Damien Bates
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Sheffield Tigers co-owner Damien Bates has refused to rule out a move into the Elite League – but only when the time is right.

Bates is preparing for his third season at Owlerton alongside Peter Mole and Simon Parker, the consortium which took over from long-serving owner Neil Machin.

And with the stadium widely regarded as one of the best in British racing – and better than many in Sweden, Denmark and Poland – they are constantly linked with promotion.

Said Bates: “We didn’t consider it for this season but it has been talked about.

“I do believe that the Elite League would like Sheffield to join because of everything about us as a club.

“We’re very fortunate to have such a great venue. The Owlerton landlords put a lot of money into the stadium, you can see that just by looking at the facilities, and as well as that we’re lucky to have such a big, open, fantastic track which almost every rider loves to race on.

“We’re lucky with the fact that we get good crowds and some great sponsorship which help it become a self-funding club in some ways.

“To step into the Elite League could be a big financial drain on us as promoters but for now I want to win stuff in the Premier League and I want to get good footings for the club.

“If we manage that then as a promoter you can never say never.”

Tigers start their season with an inter-league clash at Elite League Leicester on Saturday before the return as Owlerton’s first meeting of the season next Thursday, March 24.

Josh Grajczonek deputises for skipper Simon Stead on Saturday. Stead is ruled out until Thursday’s meeting after suffering concussion in the Ben Fund charity meeting last weekend.