SPEEDWAY is set to return to Oxford Stadium next year.

Oxford Cheetahs will be returning home to the stadium in Sandy Lane after a gap of 14 seasons.

Stadium leaseholder Kevin Boothby’s first objective is to get the greyhound operation at the stadium up-and-running, but stadium manager David Lestrade has revealed that it is also planned that speedway will return in 2022.

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Mr Lestrade said: “I’m confident that Oxford Cheetahs will be back. Of course, something unforeseen could happen, but it’s definitely in the pipeline to have speedway back.

“The first thing we need to do is get the greyhounds open, because of the financial turnover that brings and that should be back by this December.

“But the plan is then to have everything open at the stadium to the public, all the facilities and so on, in time for the start of next year’s speedway season, with the first meeting around March or April.”

Oxford is aiming to operate in league speedway and there have already been discussions with British Speedway Promoters Ltd. Speedway will be run in-house, with a promoter employed by the club.

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Mr Lestrade was one of the campaigners to re-open the stadium and he was Mr Boothby’s first appointment after he took charge at Oxford.

He added: “I’m a lifelong Oxford Cheetahs fan – I grew up living opposite to the stadium in Sandy Lane.

“Everyone has their driving motivation in wanting to see the stadium open again. My own motivation is being able to take the family along - my wife Mandie and my children Xavier (10) and Isabelle (6).

“The speedway at Oxford closed before either of my kids were born, so neither have seen Oxford Cheetahs racing at home.”

Speedway was last staged at the stadium on October 26, 2007, while Oxford Cheetahs were last in action a week before that, on October 19, when they entertained Scunthorpe Scorpions in the first leg of the Conference League play-off final.

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Dogs lasted another five years, before the final greyhound meeting on December 29, 2012.

The stadium owners at that time were the Greyhound Racing Association, owned by venture capitalist firm Risk Capital Partners, who wanted to turn the venue into housing.

But after a long campaign ensued that included a visit to the High Court in London in December 2014. In mid-2020, the stadium was confirmed on the Oxford Local Plan and designated for leisure use - effectively protecting it from development by Galliard Homes for another 15 years.

The last month or so has already seen plenty of activity up the stadium, with much work done in readiness for next season.

Mr Lestrade added: “I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped up the stadium over the last few weeks.

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“We’ve had an enthusiastic bunch of volunteers up there on some Sundays, removing the weeds on the terraces or clearing up the pits. Meanwhile, some supporters are self-employed in a trade where they can bring in their equipment or skills.

“It’s been amazing what’s been done already and it shows the passion which is out there.”

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