Wolverhampton Wolves: Premiership speedway club confirm they will not race next year

Wolverhampton Wolves in action at Monmore Green
Wolverhampton are second in the Premiership table behind Belle Vue Aces

Premiership speedway club Wolverhampton Wolves have confirmed they will not be racing next year.

The announcement was made in the programme for Monday's meeting against Sheffield Tigers, which saw Wolves seal a place in the Premiership play-offs.

The club were informed in April that their tenancy agreement for Monmore Green would not be extended for 2024.

Team manager Peter Adams told BBC WM Sport the club was "not dead and buried yet" and hoped to return in 2025.

"It's a tragedy, especially when you see the kind of entertainment that this facility can produce, but it is what it is," he said.

"Next year we won't be here, but hopefully in 2025 we'll be somewhere else."

The club was originally founded at Monmore Green in 1928 and have won the English league title on five occasions, most recently in 2016.

But their track is owned by the Entain Group, who want to use it exclusively for greyhound racing, according to reports.

Emotional farewell

The programme statement said: "With a great deal of emotion we have to state that there will be NO Wolverhampton Speedway in 2024.

"Our future plans for a large multi-discipline Moto-Park as we believe that establishing a venue solely for speedway at the level it is today cannot be cost effective in any business plan.

"While we have a site in mind, the bureaucratic world is not renowned for haste and we have to make our position clear now in order that British Speedway can establish the league structure for next season."

The statement concluded: "Hopefully the famous words of Arnold Schwarzenegger ["I'll be back"] will ring true but in the meantime it will be au revoir on 24 October."

Adams said that a new speedway facility on its own "just wouldn't survive".

He added: "You need a multi-sports arena. That's what we've got planned but there are some obstacles that need to be overcome between now and 2025.

"We've had some support from the local authority and significant support from the local MP and hopefully going forward that'll continue to get us where we want to be."

Wolves beat the Tigers 55-35 victory on Monday to make sure of a place in the play-offs next month.

They are not the only Premiership club facing an uncertain future, with Peterborough Panthers having been told earlier this year that their contract for the East of England showground was "unlikely" to be renewed.

The site's owners AEPG are planning a £50m redevelopment of the site and Panthers owner Keith Chapman has confirmed they will not race at the Showground in 2024.

Analysis - 'There is hope but fans will fear no return'

BBC WM Sport's Mike Taylor

The announcement from Wolverhampton Speedway will have been equally expected and dreaded by their supporters since the news in April that their lease would not be extended.

Speedway clubs have always come and gone, including Wolverhampton themselves, but they have been one of the strongest in Britain for decades and their loss, however temporary, is another heavy hit for the sport.

There is hope. The plan being sketched out by Wolverhampton makes practical sense, seeking to work with other branches of motorsport to make the costs feasible.

Wolves promoter, Chris Van Straaten, has previous experience of establishing a new circuit, and the club has within it a resource of speedway knowledge matched by few others. They have been encouraged by the support not only from their fan base, but the sport and the local community more widely.

But Wolverhampton supporters - and fans of their rivals - will inevitably fear that they may not return. Other major clubs, including Swindon and Coventry in recent years, have been mothballed after losing their home circuit, and remained inactive. Peterborough are already homeless for next year, and the future for others, including Birmingham, is unclear.

The biggest occasion of the British speedway year, the Grand Prix at Cardiff's Principality Stadium, takes place on Saturday. Many of the thousands attending already know, or suspect, that their club will not be racing in 2024.