THE small group of dedicated volunteers who have worked tirelessly to keep Reading on the speedway map have been given a real kick in the teeth by the sport's authorities.

In the last four years, Emma Stevens, Mat Stevens, Andy Griffin and Gene Carter have led the fight to keep the Racers team in business via young riders in the Southern Development League.

However, their hopes of racing again next season have been disappointingly shown the red light by the BSPA.

In recent years, they have used Eastbourne and Swindon as their temporary homes.

It's understood Swindon were happy to continue with the arrangement, but the BSPA ruled the team can no longer be known as Reading Racers.

In the meantime, Emma and Co are continuing their bid to find some land in the Reading area to build a new stadium.

But the cost of that, along with the required buildings, facilities and paying riders, will run into a small fortune.

It will need a Sir John Madejski Mk 2 to back them.

They are unlikely to get much assistance from the Reading Borough Council, who don't exactly have a good record of providing first-class sporting facilities – unlike Swindon.

Their council's planning committee have given the final approval to demolish Abbey Stadium in Blundson, and replace it with a £5 million venue for speedway and greyhound racing.

Talking of the good old days of the Racers, former skipper and four-time world champion Greg Hancock has announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 49.

STORMS Ciara and Dennis have proved havoc with the local football fixtures and, if another follows, I can see the season being extended into spring and running into the start of the cricket season.

If the rainy season is to continue in future years, then surely it will be time for clubs – financially permitting of course – to instal 3G pitches similar to those at Bracknell Town, Ascot United and Slough Town.

Reading desperately needs one.