Page last updated at 09:05 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 10:05 UK

Fears over Reading speedway plan

A scale model of how the proposed 'Racino' would look

Fears have been raised over the future of speedway racing in Reading after the council refused to guarantee a planned revamp of the track would go-ahead.

The Reading Racers' Smallmead track, their home since 1975, will close on Sunday while it is demolished.

But team manager Tim Sugar said the economic downturn could threaten plans to build a new speedway, greyhound track and casino on the site.

Reading Council has admitted it cannot guarantee the track will ever reopen.

In 1974 Reading Racers missed a season after leaving their Tilehurst home, and before Smallmead was ready to open.

The fans have got the commitment from us that we will do all we can to bring speedway back
Councillor Graeme Hoskin

But team manager Mr Sugar told BBC Radio Berkshire he was sceptical about the future of speedway in Reading.

"Until the first brick is laid I am going to be quite sceptical in the current economic situation.

"I am just hoping we haven't seen the last speedway in Reading."

Racers' promoter Malcolm Holloway added: "This Sunday is going to be a very sad occasion but a happy one.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed in 2010 we will come back bigger and better."

Gaming International has been granted planning permission to build a "Racino" which is due for completion in 2010 - meaning the Racers have to sit out next season.

Councillor Graeme Hoskin, from Reading Borough Council, said he was confident the developers will press ahead with the plan.

He said: "Unfortunately the council can't build a stadium, we haven't got the money to do that.

"But we are doing everything we can as a landowner and planner to make that happen.

"The fans have got the commitment from us that we will do all we can to bring speedway back."

Reading Racers miss 2009 season
08 Aug 08 |  Speedway
New Reading bosses given welcome
21 Jun 07 |  Speedway
Town 'Racino' plans get go-ahead
24 Apr 07 |  Berkshire

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