Mildenhall Stadium secured for the future with sale to Spedeworth – speedway and greyhounds set to stay says promoter
PUBLISHED: 11:09 11 August 2016 | UPDATED: 11:09 11 August 2016
The future of a Suffolk speedway stadium has been secured after it was sold to one of the largest track owners in the country.
Mildenhall Stadium, which is also home to greyhound and stock car races, has been plagued by financial instability due to a noise nuisance legal battle. In 2015 the owners were landed with a £1.7million bill, which many feared would force its closure.
RDC Promotions have now sold the stadium to Spedeworth, who also run Foxhall Stadium in Ipswich.
RDC’s Dave Coventry said he will remain in place as the manager, running events day-to-day, while the financial clout of Deane Wood from Spedeworth will help improve the venue going forward.
“We have been in a financial struggle here since the court case started,” Mr Coventry said, who bought the stadium in 2008 with his brother Ron.
“Then the bank started pushing to have their loan repaid, and this [the buy out] seemed to be a solution. Deane is keen to keep it how it is, we have carved out the market and he recognises that. What he brings is the showmanship, he likes to keep everything clean and smooth. Simple things like matching overalls and a more corporate approach. I think it will be a good combination.
“Deane has always shown respect for what RDC have achieved and is buying into what we do, not looking to change everything. The deal is just what Mildenhall stadium needed.
“He is in a strong financial position and his approach will make us stronger.
“We have been able to put our staff’s minds at rest, their futures are now secure. It will be business at usual at first, but going forward it will be business even more than usual.”
When rumours of the buyout were discussed on Facebook, many feared that the stadium, home to the Mildenhall Fen Tigers speedway team, would cut the less profitable speedway and greyhound racing.
Mr Coventry said this was not part of Mr Wood’s plan, adding: “He is buying in to our diversity. Due to financial pressures we had to cut back to one greyhound meet a week, but now we are potentially in a position to increase that to two.”
The Coventry brothers had mortgaged everything to buy the stadium, which they had rented since 1993. However, a noise complaint from Katherine Lawrence and Raymond Shields led to a lengthy legal battle, starting at the High Court in 2009. The case was brought after the couple bought a bungalow 800 yards from the stadium.
After five years it ended at the Supreme Court, which ruled against the stadium. £20,000 in compensation was awarded to the homeowners, who stuck with the case after their house burned down in 2010. RDC were ordered to pay up to £1.7m in costs, which will remain with the Coventry brothers.
The costs are set to be contested at the European Court of Human Rights.
Mr Coventry, who is appealing after a change in current UK law over ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements, is confident he will win and dramatically decrease the debt.
A case at the ECHR involving Naomi Campbell and the Mirror newspaper ruled some costs awarded by the Supreme Court after a ‘no win, no fee’ deal were unlawful.