New Rebels' boss aims for better facilities

MIKE Golding, new co-promoter of Somerset Rebels speedway team, is aiming for improved spectator facilities, including a clubhouse, at the Oak Tree Arena, just outside Highbridge.

But the key to that ambition lies with the land-owner Bill Hancock, who bought back the lease for the speedway stadium recently from co-promoter Pete Toogood.

The new co-promoter has signed a lease with local farmer Hancock to run speedway for the next three years on the site. Golding said at the weekend: "Bill has big plans for the stadium, including a clubhouse, which already has planning permission. Understandably, he didn't want to go ahead with any development when he didn't own the lease himself."

Golding has been co-chief of Elite League Poole Pirates for eight years and describes himself as "a full-time speedway promoter", having this year sold a taxi business he owned. He will continue to co-promote at Poole with Matt Ford, but will take over all the day-to-day running of Somerset.

Toogood, who has been either promoter or co-promoter of the Rebels for three of their seven years' existence, negotiated for Golding to come on board because Toogood's stepdaughter and right-hand woman Jo Lawson is expecting a baby shortly.

Lawson became co-promoter a year ago after Toogood had been elected chairman of the British Speedway Promoters' Association and she did most of the day-to-day running of the club.

Her imminent motherhood has brought about the arrival of Golding, who has bought a controlling interest in the Rebels. Toogood will continue as co-promoter, but the Salisbury-based property developer wants to concentrate on his BSPA role and business interests.

"When the chance arose to buy an interest in Somerset, I jumped at it and the deal was done quite quickly," said Golding, a Poole local. "I hadn't given a lot of thought to the Premier League previously and Somerset is really the only club I would have wanted to get involved with.

"It has one of the fairest tracks in the country and the club has tremendous potential, being just off the M5."

He went on: "With me running it, I hope things will continue pretty much as they were, following on from the Rebels' most successful season in the Premier, although I have a couple of ideas of my own.

"I would like Mick Bell to carry on as team manager, although I know he finds all the travelling involved difficult. As for next year's team, nothing can be decided until the points limit is fixed at the BSPA AGM on November 20."

Golding added: "The Premier League is a completely-different challenge for me and I am really looking forward to it." He attended Saturday's Rebels' presentation dinner-dance at Toogood's Abbey Stadium, Glastonbury, on Saturday.

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