Will Sweden’s Allsvenskan be the only speedway in 2020?
Will Sweden’s Allsvenskan be the only speedway in 2020?

Bild från Bildbyrån

Will Sweden’s Allsvenskan be the only speedway in 2020?

This week has seen unprecedented events with countries taking large scale action not seen since the Second World War. Borders and schools are closed and those over 70 yrs are encouraged not to go out. International events such as the Eurovision Song Contest and the European football championship have been cancelled and even the Olympics, due to be held in Tokyo, at the end of July is being called into question.

No one knows if the speedway season will actually start in Europe at all.

The sport at the top club level in the UK, Poland and Sweden relies on riders travelling freely between countries and likewise international tournaments like the Speedway GP and the SEC. Even in the lower division, such as Poland's Nice 1 and Nice 2 league or the UK’s second division, the Championship, are heavily reliant on foreign talent to function.

The Danish Metal League is one of the few European leagues where the top division is dominated by riders from that country. Last year the league included import riders such as Luke Becker (USA), Kevin Wölbert (GER), Jaimon Lidsey (AUS) and Dawid Lampart (POL). However, Danish speedway is in a good condition and there are a number of riders such as Claus Vissing, Michael Palm Toft or Lasse Bjerre who all race on Danish licences in the UK in 2019 and may be willing to return to their home nation if that was their only chance to race.

But whilst there are enough riders to support the league, as of 17 March the Danish government has banned all gatherings of more than 10 people. Last year Metal League matches attracted between 1000-2000 people these tickets sales are needed to make the sport work economically.

Outside Poland the sport is on an economic knife edge, with one of Britain's most successful teams, the Poole Pirates, choosing to go down to the Championship in 2020 after financial difficulty in 2019.

In Sweden, Motala Piraterna nearly went bankrupt again putting their problems down to the difference between projected income based on ticket sales and actual received income from gates in a season where they had 500 less people per match than anticipated. Gates in Sweden's top division were between 2000-2500 in 2019 and this is significantly more than the current limit of 500 set by the state on 12 March in response to Coronavirus outbreak. If this law remains in place when the Elitserien is due to start on 5 May it will not be able to go ahead because of the economic risks involved.

However, things might be different for Sweden’s second division, Allsvenskan.

The league is an entirely Swedish affair with almost no riders from outside the country on the teams' rosters. At the same time almost all Sweden's top riders are already take part in the league, including all the riders nominated by SVEMO to the SGP and SEC at the beginning of March - Linus Sundström (pictured), Oliver Berntzon, Kim Nilsson, Peter Ljung, Pontus Aspgren, Matias Törnblom, Victor Paloaarva and Ludvig Lindgren.

The only top Swedish riders who did not race in Allsvenskan in 2019 were Jacob Thorssell who is due to race in the Elitserien, UK and Poland and SGP riders, Antonio Lindbäck and Ludvig's older brother, Fredrik Lindgren, who has already said he does not intend to race in Sweden in 2020.

So Allsvenskan is one of the few European leagues that could continue to operate even when international travel in restricted.

Not only that but the league functions on a relatively low fan attendance. Last year the only two clubs who regularly had more than 500 in the stands were the two semi-finalists, Norrköping Vargarna and Nyköping Griparna. That should mean that that at least the other four teams ought to have budgeted for 2020 on that basis.

So, could it be that Sweden's Allsvenskan is the one of the few European leagues that is able to operate with an international travel ban and a limit on how many can gather in one place?

The Allsvenskan is due to start on 13 May, so we will wait to see if Griparna will be able to defend their title from 2019.

European Leagues and their top scorers

Here is a list of the major European leagues, the top scorer from 2019 and the top scorer from the country who hosts the league:

SGB Premiership (GBR) - Jason Doyle (AUS) 1st place; Craig Cook (GBR) 6th place

SGB Championship (GBR) - Sam Masters (AUS) 1st place; Craig Cook (GBR) 2nd place

Ekstraliga (POL) - Bartosz Zmarzlik (POL) 1st place

Nice 1 (POL) - Viktor Kulakov (RUS) 1st place; Kacper Woryna (POL) 2nd place

Nice 2 (POL) - Brady Kurtz (AUS) 1st place; Kamil Brzozowski (POL) 6th place

Elitserien (SWE) - Bartosz Zmarzlik (POL) 1st place, Fredrik Lindgren (SWE) 6th place

Metal League (DEN) - Niel Kristian Iversen (DEN) 1st place

Based on figures from http://se.aktuellspeedway.eu/

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