Speedway GP could return to Wembley after over 40 years as FA chases new events
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Speedway could roar back to Wembley after a gap of more than 40 years.
Wembley bosses have opened the door to the shock return after it was booted out at the end of 1981 because of the damage it caused to the pitch. But now the decision to install a ‘lay and play’ pitch system means Wembley could host a round of the world championship Grand Prix series.
The last meeting at the old Wembley was the 1981 World Final, but there has never been speedway at the new stadium. However, that could all change as the owners, the Football Association, look for extra events to bring in extra fans and cash.
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Liam Boylan, Wembley Stadium Director, is actively looking to increase income and admits: “I think from the old stadium, I would love to bring some of that speedway back in. It’s never happened in the new stadium, we couldn’t because of where the pitch is and where the surround is, we couldn’t get it in.
“But because I’d be able to completely move it because of ‘lay and play’ and protect the soil and sand that’s underneath it, yes, I think there is an opportunity to do something like that.”
Now the biggest night of the year is the annual British Grand Prix which has been at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium since 2001. Boylan, who joined Wembley eight years ago as Head of Events and has been in his current role since July 2020, revealed his wish to see speedway under the Arch on The Three Lions podcast celebrating the venue’s centenary.
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Boylan added: “I was never a fan of it until I saw it on a tour, I saw it over the Principality, and inside there, the roar, that noise inside the stadium, was just something else. There was speedway near me where I grew up in Belle Vue, Manchester, but I never went to see it. But ‘Lay and Play’ will actually give us this opportunity.
“It opens up this new window for me, could I bring speedway back to Wembley in November or December time? It gives you the opportunity to look at these weird and wonderful things.”
Wembley opened on April 28, 1923, and launched speedway on May 16, 1929. Australian Lionel Van Praag won the first World Final there in 1936 and it was the traditional home of the world championship until 1981 and also staged regular league racing, most recently in 1971.
Bosses of Discovery Sports Events, who own the rights to the world championship series with motorcycling’s world governing body, the FIM, have already been alerted that a GP at Wembley isn’t a fanciful pipedream. And the FIM, who want to see a second round in Britain, would jump at the chance of a Wembley revival.
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