FORMER Coventry skipper Scott Nicholls has spoken of his sadness of the current state of the iconic Brandon Stadium.
Nicholls, who rode for the Bees in six seasons over three spells, is one of the most successful captains in the club’s history, having led them to five major trophies in a glittering three-year period – including spearheading the unforgettable Elite League Treble campaign of 2007.
He last rode for Coventry in 2013 but was always a popular visitor when appearing in opposition colours, and says he can’t believe the state of disrepair the stadium has been allowed to fall into.
Current owners Brandon Estates have submitted a planning application to build 137 houses on the site, having closed it down ahead of the 2017 season – and have done nothing in the meantime to support the continuation of speedway and stock car racing in the area.
Nicholls visited the site earlier this winter in the aftermath of two gypsy incursions which resulted in extensive damage inside, and the burning down of an old turnstile block.
He said: “I know Jeff (Davies) has been working tirelessly to sort things out, and I’ve seen the pictures he’s been putting out, which does give you a fantastic impression.
“But when you actually see it with your own eyes for real, you get the full 360 degrees of it, and it’s really, really sad.
“It’s so horrible to see an absolute mess there. It looks like something out of a movie.
“Coventry is such a proud and iconic club, and to see what’s happened in such a short space of time is just awful, especially when I and many other people have so many good and special memories from there.
“I just can’t understand the whole thing to be honest, and I don’t know why they haven’t been allowing the sports to run in the interim whilst they can’t do anything and while they’re trying to establish what they’re doing with it.
“I know there are all sorts of legal things going on behind what they’re trying to achieve, but it’s so sad for it to be like that.
“It leaves an empty feeling in your stomach, to think it’s been trashed in that way and the way people have treated it.
“I saw on Jeff’s Twitter about how the travellers had just left a dog cooped up there, and really that’s something you don’t want to think of when you remember all of the special speedway memories.
“Then you think a poor little dog has been left there in that way, and that just sums those people up really.”
The Campaign Group acknowledges that the scale of the damage caused since January 2017 means extensive work would need to be carried out to return the stadium to a condition suitable for racing and public access.
They therefore launched an appeal last week for skilled tradesmen and women who may be able to help – and received an astonishing response, with nearly 100 pledges of support in under 48 hours, from all over the country and comprising a wide variety of skills and trades.
This clearly demonstrates that the official renovation costs can be slashed, and that the ongoing need for the stadium as a sports venue remains as great as ever.
Speedway and stock car fans and local residents have until March 1 to submit their objections to the planning application to Rugby Borough Council, and are urged to do so.