Belle Vue last year and he was all emotional about it because he has got some great memories of riding there of course.
“Prior to all of this, we had looked at Bradford and its capacity from previous World Finals, we knew its history, and we could have got the capacity up to 22,000, which would have supported a Grand Prix. At the moment, it is still 18,000.
“Work would have been done, Bradford City Council would have been involved, Visit Yorkshire, etc., and it was something we really could have made work. Unfortunately, it just did not meet the latest FIM specs.”
ESPITE the failure to fly a British Grand Prix kite over Odsal, Godfrey remains convinced that a league revival is something that can get off the ground.
“Steve Rees is no longer involved there now, he sold the lease on and we know the new people are interested. I have had contact with them and they want speedway there,” he said.
“As far as it being a league venue goes, the door is open for that. It just needs a promoter to step forward, albeit one with big pockets to put a bespoke fence in and have a team available to take it down as and when other events are going on.
“It’s not the end of the world to have to put it up and take it down as and when you need to. The hospitality box stanchions, which everyone thought would be a major issue, is not as big of an issue as we all thought it was.
“Actually, when you go into the hospitality,
• LEFT: Odsal Stadium, pictured prior to the return of stock-cars in 2020, will not host a Grand Prix, but could return as a league venue. Picture: KEITH McGHIE
you’re very privileged to look at the track from there, it is an amazing vantage point when you look down on the track. There has been a lot of money spent on Bradford. For me, I’d never been there before and when I did, it was ‘wow’. I thought, ‘we have got to do this’.
“We gave it our absolute best shot, all three of us, and we jumped through a lot of hoops to try and make it work but sadly we just couldn’t make it happen. It wasn’t through a lack of trying, I can tell you, because we tried our hardest.
“But the positive to take out of it all is that the door is still very much open to league speedway going back there. The minimum width for a league track is a lot less than it is for international FIM meetings, and it meets that. The door is firmly open from our investigations and we’ve probably opened it further than anyone else has.
“It is feasible, the track is good and the bits that everyone maybe thought you couldn’t get round, like the legs on the hospitality boxes, we now know you can get round that. It’s just a case of somebody thinking, ‘I can make Bradford work and bring speedway back’.
“They would get my full support and I know the board would support it, but someone would have to go in there, they would have to design and buy a fence, put it up and keep taking it down when stock-cars want to have a meeting.
“The two sports could easily co-exist there and one thing we have agreed on is that it is a real possibility that Bradford could re-ignite itself as a league venue,
“In terms of holding a Grand Prix there, though, we’ve moved on. It was a massive disappointment because we felt that with a five year deal, we would have filled Bradford every year because it would be a purpose-built track and once you got a taste of going into that stadium, it brought the hairs on the back of your neck up. It is a very, very special venue.”
ITH Bradford eliminated, Godfrey, Bates and Louis have turned to the obvious choice for a second British GP...the National Speedway Stadium.
“We moved on quite swiftly after Bradford and decided that the only chance of getting a second Grand Prix in this country is Belle Vue,” said Godfrey.
“We know it’s a fantastic race track, all the riders love it, and when you go there, you just know you’re going to get something special and you never know who is going to win.
“It’s a great, great facility but capacity has always been the issue there, so through (Belle Vue promoter) Mark Lemon, we have been in dialogue with the city council for the last six months or more to see if it will be possible to put it on the GP calendar, maybe as soon as 2023.
“Discovery want a second Grand Prix in this country and while Cardiff is very special for its unique family weekend, Manchester would be special as well. It would be one you look forward to because we know the racing would be second to none.
“Despite Bradford, our desire to have a second GP here is not over. We constantly have updates and meetings to see where we are with it and, to be honest, I don’t think we are that far away now. I am certainly not saying it will be on the calendar for next year, but we are giving it a good go.
“A second British GP deserves to be on the calendar and it deserves to be at Manchester. We are trying to get the capacity up to 10,000, that’s the goal. If we can do that, then the numbers will work. Anything less than that, it is a problem.
“The Grand Prix series is a franchise now. Discovery paid a lot of money for it and they are obviously looking to make money back at the other end. It’s a business and the numbers have to work for everyone. The only way it will work is if we can do a five-year deal and get 10,000 people in there. It will be a go-er at 10,000, but there is a lot of negotiation to do with Discovery first.
“If we can pull it off, it will be right up at the top of everyone’s list to watch a Grand Prix there, let’s be honest. If you’ve got the choice of watching a Grand Prix there or anywhere else in the world, you will want to go to Manchester because you are going to be thoroughly entertained by what goes on on the track.
“Through Mark Lemon, we are in negotiation with Manchester City Council and they are being very supportive, but this is certainly not a five minute process. There is a hell of a long way to go but negotiations are ongoing.
“I think it will be a massive plus point for Manchester, and for British speedway, if we can do it. I wouldn’t like to say what the odds are of it happening in time for next year and I wouldn’t want to put any pressure on the council or Mark Lemon, who is doing everything he possibly can as our liaison officer as such.
“At this stage, I would hope it might be possible for 2023 but, like the Bradford thing, it took six months or longer just to get to where we got to. We had the capacity at Bradford, but not the track, and with Manchester, it’s the other way around, we’ve got the track but not the capacity!
“In a way, capacity is almost harder to get. But we’re looking at it as a joint venture to increase the capacity, we’re not expecting Manchester City Council to pay for it all but we’re certainly looking at every option because we really want this to happen.
“As it stands now, I think Manchester is 6,000 and that’s just not enough. You would lose a lot of money. It needs either a permanent or temporary stand putting up.
“If we can get the capacity up, then I know Discovery are very, very keen to put it on the calendar, as is Armando.
“Cardiff is in September next year, so we’d be looking to be one of the earlier rounds in 2023 if we can do it, round about April or May time probably, but that’s just me speaking right now, I’m not in charge of the GP calendar obviously!”
Words: ANDREW SKEELS
• The National Speedway Stadium in Manchester was the venue for the Speedway of Nations Final in 2021. Will it become a Grand Prix circuit in the future? Picture: JAREK PABIJAN