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Our Fixture Situation
Photo by Dave Payne
Sun 10 Aug 2014 by Comets Press Office
The fixture backlog gets worse - the current situation
Today's rained off fixture against Scunthorpe, which went the same way as every other planned match in the UK today thanks to the tail end of Hurricane Bertha, has added more pressure to the Comets disjointed season, which has seen them race just once at home since 28th June!

This unprecedented situation means that after racing just 10 league matches in four months the Comets now have to race EIGHTEEN league fixtures in 28 days.

Comets team manager Tony Jackson said: “This can certainly be regarded as a fixture crisis and while we are not the only club with problems we are certainly the worst affected.

“I have lost track of how many hours I have spent on the telephone trying to re-arrange fixtures but with most clubs having doubling-up riders in their ranks, as well as riders that race in overseas leagues the number of days you are actually able to try and run matches on is really quite small.

“However the time has arrived where clubs, including ourselves, will simply have to run with guests and rider replacement if necessary, in order to get matches raced before the 14th September cut-off date for the play-offs.

“Matches can take place after that date but they will obviously be too late to count towards a play-off position. It is quite possible to end up in the top six when all the fixtures are complete but be outside the top six on 14th September and so miss out on the chance to race in the league title play-offs.

“I have all our existing fixtures, all our riders other commitments, dates when the stadium is unavailable, all the fixture dates of teams we have yet to race and known ‘unavailable' dates for other clubs plotted on a big chart to try and find some way through it all. We are making some progress but there are still some problems to overcome. Plus, there is the further concern that if rain affects fixtures in the next four or five weeks before the cut-off then there will be problems; and not just for us. After all, what are the chances of the next four weeks being totally dry?

“Many clubs are being forced into the position of racing off their normal race day or staging two meetings in a week or even ‘double-headers' – none of which are ideal and they can all quite easily be a financial disaster.

“We had hoped to stage a meeting last night, making it two matches in two days, but that could not be sorted in time unfortunately.

“When the fixture list was drawn up we moved fixtures to minimise fixture clashes and maximise the number of times that we could track a full team. Back in January the fixture list had Wolves racing at Leicester last night, which would have meant we would be without Ricky and Ashley, which is why the plan was to race today.

“However, with Ashley on the injured list, we tried to arrange a fixture for yesterday as soon as Ricky was released from the Wolves side. But, due to their various existing commitments, we were unable to obtain a guarantee that all the necessary personnel that enable a meeting to go ahead would be available in sufficient time to log the meeting, publicise it and ensure we had a team to race against. All of which appears doubly frustrating in light of today's postponement and yesterday's fine evening, as it would have been an ideal opportunity to catch up on a meeting and be one less to organise in the future!

“At present we are working on dates for the home fixtures against Edinburgh, Scunthorpe, Sheffield and Somerset PLUS of course Rusty Harrison's Testimonial Meeting, which will definitely take place. Additionally, we are trying to get dates confirmed for our visits to Berwick, Glasgow and Peterborough.

“Hopefully we will have some dates to announce very soon, but the first two weeks in September are looking like they could be extremely busy!

“On top of this the injuries to our two reserves are a major problem, but with no riders available to replace Ashley plus the fact that Simon can only be replaced by a National League guest are simply adding to our frustrations! Plus, with the backlog in fixtures, the choice of guests becomes even more restricted as everyone is riding in re-arranged fixtures already!”
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Last Updated :  Sun 10 Aug 2014, 16:04 UK
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Photography
Dave Payne, Adrian Randall