Tuesday October 09, 2018
PETERBOROUGH owner Ged Rathbone has announced the club is up for sale.

Rathbone intends to end his time in charge of the Panthers at the end of the present campaign, which could be as soon as this weekend.

They face a significant deficit ahead of Saturday’s home KO Cup semi-final against Scunthorpe (7pm) and must win their away match against Lakeside on Saturday by three or more points to reach the league Grand Final.

Rathbone, who also confirmed team manager Carl Johnson will stand down at the end of the season, says his decision has been taken due to a combination of factors – both business and personal.

He said: “It’s something we’ve been considering for some time, and I think realistically we’ve known for a while now that this will be our last season in charge.

“We’ve had four fantastic years and it’s absolutely nothing do with the recent team performances. It’s been an incredible season and it’s so frustrating now to have got so close to making history.

“It’s not beyond us to go and win at Rye House on Sunday, but obviously the KO Cup is very difficult although not impossible, so I wanted to let people know before the coming weekend.

“The BSPA have been informed that the club is for sale and if a buyer comes in, the ideal scenario would be for a deal to be completed before the AGM in mid-November.

“As it stands, though, I do have to say there’s a possibility that Saturday’s meeting could be the last speedway event at Peterborough.

“I don’t want that to happen and I’ll do all I can to secure the club’s future, but it does depend on someone coming forward, and I’d invite any credible bidders to please contact me.

“If anyone was interested in coming on board as a partner then that’s something I’d discuss, and as I do have a great deal of finance tied up in the club then there is a small chance I could continue next year in certain circumstances, but I stress that’s not my intention.

“I don’t want to close the club, I genuinely love it, but it’s very difficult when I’m solely responsible for everything that goes on.

“It’s three hours there and back for a home meeting, which is a massive commitment, and I put every living breath into the club. There isn’t a day in the year when I’m not working on Peterborough Speedway matters – even Christmas Day – and that’s often at the expense of my business and my personal life.

“The last thing I want to do is knock the fans because they’ve been tremendous, and welcomed me from the outset - but what’s really confirmed the decision is that in our last four home meetings, which have been our biggest matches in terms of being semi-finals or qualifying for play-offs and so on, we’ve had our four lowest crowds of the season.

“Sunday’s crowd for the play-off semi-final was even lower than the previous week. I know it was against the same opponents, but these are things which should concern the sport as a whole.

“Don’t get me wrong, we’ve probably broken even over the four years and maybe even made a small profit, but there comes a point when it takes up too much time and commitment.

“The club has to be sustainable and pay for itself, and with the uncertainty over the future direction of the sport I just feel this is the right time for me to walk away.”

Rathbone paid tribute to the work of manager Johnson, who has been in charge for most of their successes over recent years.

They won the Championship Fours and KO Cup last season, repeated the feat in the Fours this year and ended the league campaign on top of the table – and established British stars such as Scott Nicholls, Chris Harris and Craig Cook have all raced for the club during the current era.

Rathbone said: “Carl was someone I didn’t know at all when I came to the club, but we’ve become close friends.

“Naturally we’ve had our disagreements along the way, but Carl has always stood by me whilst others have been and gone, for whatever reasons.

“What people don’t see is what he does for the club aside from managing the team. Whether it’s putting up and taking down the air-fence, repairing roofs, installing showers – you name it, he’s done it.

“Neither myself nor Carl have ever taken a penny out of the club in the four years. When Carl drives to Edinburgh or Glasgow to manage the team, the fuel for that comes out of his own pocket.

“We’ve both always said the journey would begin and end for us together, and that’s going to be at the end of this season.

“Both of us have families, Carl has a little boy and I’ve recently become a grandfather, and we do both need to devote more time to that.

“There are so many other people to thank, I can’t go through the full list now but obviously Lisa (Fleming) is a huge support and my co-promoter Neil Watson has been a massive help this year.

“I must stress again I want the club to survive, and I invite any serious bidders to come forward and discuss things with me.”

Any parties interested in the purchase of Peterborough Speedway should contact Ged Rathbone at -email- .

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