Sheffield Tigers’ first Premiership speedway at Owlerton Stadium for 33 years postponed

You wait 33 years for a first Premiership fixture at your home stadium, and then bad weather forces a postponement.

Sheffield Tigers are back in action after 19/20 months away (Picture: Marie Caley)

Sheffield Tigers were tonight (Thursday) due to make their belated Premiership debut, 14 months after they should have done, and 33 years since their last home Premiership fixture

Tigers were due to welcome Peterborough Panthers to Owlerton Stadium (7.30pm) but it has been postponed because of heavy rain.

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The wait for their first home Premiership fixture since 1988 goes on. It is now due to be held on Thursday June 3

A little over 900 spectators will be allowed to watch the speedway at Owlerton Stadium tonight (Picture: Marie Caley)

Tigers co-owner Damien Bates said: “After over 500 days with no racing the wait goes on. I cannot believe it. We’re all absolutely gutted about it.

“We’ve gone to great expense to get everything ready and it’s been a lengthy process to get us back on track, we’ve had some sleepless nights and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our landlords and the council.

“We now have to wait another two weeks when we welcome Wolverhampton on Thursday June 3.”

More patience is now required.

Sheffield Tigers in action (Picture: Marie Caley)

They sealed their return to the top flight at the back end of 2019 and had made a splash in preparation for their first season back among the elite by signing three-time world champion Nicki Pedersen.

Tigers and their star attraction were revved up to begin their Premiership adventure last March, only for the coronavirus pandemic to shut down sport.

They finally returned to action on Monday night away at Belle Vue, losing 47-43

“It’s a massive season for us especially since we’ve not been riding for 19/20 months” says co-owner Damien Bates, a businessman from Barnsley who bought the speedway team he had been watching since he was eight, back in 2014.

“It’s a big risk with everything that’s going on but a lot of hard work has gone into it.”

Bates has been unable to bring Pedersen back to the Tigers, opting instead to recruit more British-based riders for 2021.

The sport of speedway was offered grants and loans from the Government’s survival package, but Tigers declined to take it.

They were due to ride tonight in front of a reduced capacity of 926 fans. On a good day, pre-Covid, they could attract up to 1,700 supporters.

“I’m just hoping we can get through the season and that every club can survive,” added Bates, whose team have been riding out of Owlerton Stadium since the early 1990s.

“We’d love to win the league, but the most important thing is getting through the year with our finances intact.”

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