Wednesday September 29, 2021
PROUD Sheffield Tigers co-owner Damien Bates insists the club are winners – regardless of the outcome of their Premiership play-off clash with Belle Vue.

The roses rivals meet at Owlerton Stadium in the first leg of the semi-final tomorrow (Thursday) before the return in Manchester seven days later.

And Bates has revealed how the season will go down as a major achievement after everything they have been through in their first season back in top flight speedway.

It’s the first time the club have ever made a play-off at this level – at their first attempt – and a bumper crowd is expected.

Bates, a successful businessman based in Barnsley, has lifted the lid on what the club – and others – have had to contend with away from the track.

He said: “Right at the very start in a delayed May start we were fighting fires. We were only allowed a small number of fans to our meetings which meant we were going to lose money as long as those restrictions remained in place.

“Thankfully there was light at the end of the tunnel and the July lifting of restrictions went ahead as planned.

“What I will say here is, whatever would have happened with restrictions, we were committed to the season. Unlike Eastbourne, we knew we were in it for the season and there is no way we would have pulled out of the league.

“This was an issue our play-off opponents, Belle Vue, had to contend with and similarly their owners were committed to the season regardless of trading conditions.

“The extra admin involved in online ticketing for my co-promoter Julie Reading was off the scale and I’m very grateful to Julie for all the hard work she put, and continues to put, in. It’s unseen and the club owes her and huge debt of gratitude.”

Sheffield head into the meeting on the back of a big win over King’s Lynn on Sunday and a shock away victory over Peterborough last week.

Aussie ace Jack Holder has been in stunning form and admits he would have raced every day leading up to the tie if he could.

“I just want to keep riding,” he said. “But after Sunday I’ve had no more meetings because I’m finished with my Polish team and it’s all about Sheffield now.

“Belle Vue are a great team, we’ve had some good meetings with them this season but hopefully we can come out on top over two legs.”

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