BRITISH Speedway bosses have completed their three-day AGM in Warwickshire – where arrangements have been made for the 2015 season.
The AGM was attended by all clubs who completed the 2014 Elite and Premier League campaign, and new vice-chairman Chris Van Straaten has stressed the views of supporters have been strongly taken into account over the weekend.Business has been completed for the two senior leagues, and the National League AGM will take place on December 9.That meeting is set to include an application for membership from Eastbourne, who were in attendance on the first day of the conference.Peterborough also left after the conclusion of 2014 business and have asked the Association to give them 14 days to confirm their intention to run in 2015, and that period has been granted.Van Straaten said: “Eastbourne have received permission to put their Elite League licence on ice for one year, and at the end of 2015 they will make a further decision.“They have been valuable members of the top leagues for a number of seasons and we’re sad to see them go, but we understand their reasoning and they will be applying for National League membership.“Peterborough took no further part in any voting or discussions after 2014 business, in case they don’t run, which is the right thing to do, but we have left the door open for them to come back into the Premier League within 14 days if they can.“Everybody else was very positive in wanting to run, and as usual there was a very harmonious atmosphere. Naturally, as always, there were areas of heated debate, but that’s what democracy is all about, and we have come to solutions which suit the majority.“We are very happy with the way the AGM has progressed. We have tried to correct items which were wrong, having listened to the views of supporters, and we all feel positive about 2015 and beyond.”
MANAGEMENT COMMITTEEAlex Harkess (Edinburgh) remains as Chairman for the last of his six-year stint in the position.Chris Van Straaten (Wolverhampton) takes over as Vice-Chairman, with George English (Newcastle) and Rob Godfrey (Scunthorpe) remaining on the Management Committee.Former vice-chairman Jon Cook (Lakeside) did not stand for re-election, with Keith Chapman (King’s Lynn) joining the Management Committee. The reserve member, to cover any absence across the Association, will be David Hemsley (Leicester).Van Straaten said: “Jon wants to take time out of Management Committee business and focus on Lakeside matters, and we thank him for his hard work and contribution over the years.“We’re delighted that Keith Chapman, who has done so much for King’s Lynn Speedway over the last decade, has joined the MC and I’m sure his experience will be invaluable.”
OVERALL ISSUES*The 2015 BSPA AGM will be brought forward by at least a month and will take place within the racing season. This enables clubs to hold discussions with riders regarding the following season prior to the end of the existing campaign.Van Straaten said: “This is a huge step forward, and both leagues agreed it was the way to go. We need to be able to do our business earlier. We’re always the last nation to be able to talk to riders, but next year we will be able to do it considerably earlier.”*Both Elite and Premier Leagues have adopted a system of three points per home win. All other league scoring remains unchanged.English said: “Teams used to get two points for a home win of six points or less, but that meant some home supporters were leaving disappointed that they’d dropped a point.“Everything else stays the same with a point for away teams keeping within six points, but every home win is worth three league points.”*In the 2015 season, there will be only one Tactical Ride available (both Elite and Premier Leagues), which will be if a Team is ten or more points in arrears. Timing of availability of this facility remains unchanged.*When a rider is unavailable to his club as he is required to race in a re-arranged fixture abroad, there will now be a facility available (in both leagues).*The Yellow & Black helmet colour will return in 2015, rather than Yellow only. This is in response to comments from supporters regarding identification of riders under floodlights.
MAJOR EVENTSThe six Major Events from 2014 will all return.The Premier League Pairs will, as usual, be staged at Somerset on the night preceding the British Grand Prix – Friday July 3, 2015.Dates and venues for the other events – British Final, British Under-21 Final, ELRC, PLRC and Premier League Fours – are to be confirmed, and it is intended that the ELRC will be run at an early stage of the season, prior to the start of major International events.
ELITE LEAGUE*Competing clubs: Belle Vue, Coventry, King’s Lynn, Lakeside, Leicester, Poole, Swindon, Wolverhampton.
*Elite League: Each team meets each other twice at home and twice away for a 28-match programme. Play-offs for the top four teams as before.
*Points limit: Raised from 32 to 34 for the top-five members of the team.
Van Straaten explained: “The basis for that is we understand that some second-strings were falsely high, and rather than tinkering with averages or working out a system of taking a percentage off, we raised the overall average to make allowances for that. This will enable clubs to track very competitive top fives.”
*Fast Track System: This has been enhanced for 2015 with an increase in quality, as additional riders will be invited to join the scheme.Neil Vatcher has assumed control of the system, and will be sending invitations to riders, who will be split into two categories. Elite League promoters will meet later in November for the draft, and clubs will include one rider from each category.A list of guest riders for Category 1 will also be available, as there was an issue in 2014 with obtaining suitable replacements on certain race-nights.Van Straaten said: “2014 was an innovative year with the Fast Track and the new format, and it was important to look at things which weren’t quite right and improve upon them, rather than throwing it straight out.“I’m pleased the BSPA have taken that stance because for the most part the response to it was tremendous, but there were one or two adjustments which were needed, and we have tried to listen to the fans.“We would like to sincerely thank Phil Morris for his work with the Fast Track this year, we were pleased with the effect it had on the league, and we are happy to now have Neil taking over responsibility for the scheme.“There were riders this year who perhaps could think they had unfairly missed out, and the likes of Ashley Birks, Adam Roynon and Josh Auty will now have the option to come in.“The fact that we need less riders, with only eight teams, has improved the quality of that Fast Track pot of riders immensely.”
*Doubling-Up: This option is now restricted to two years per rider, effective from the 2015 season onwards. Two places in the top five of the team are available for a doubling-up position, as before.
*Elite League Fixtures: These will be compiled in a manner sympathetic to those riders competing in the Grand Prix series, with free weeks in the build-up to major meetings.Van Straaten said: “We want the league to be open to anyone in World Speedway who wants to be here, and hopefully this will encourage some to have another think and conclude that Great Britain is not as exhausting as it was.“We have the full FIM list for next season, we know all of their dates, and we are attempting to make it more hospitable for the top riders to race in the Elite League, although obviously you can’t force them to!”*Signing Window: Although the transfer deadline remains in place, a window will open for seven days prior to the Elite League play-offs to enable clubs to replace injured riders with riders from outside the league.Should guests be required in the Elite League play-offs, it is no longer permissible for these to be selected from riders competing for clubs who have also qualified for the play-offs.
*A revised Elite League race format will be in place for 2015 to primarily address the issue of the visiting No.4 not competing until Heat 5.
PREMIER LEAGUE*Competing clubs: Berwick, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ipswich, Newcastle, Plymouth, Redcar, Rye House, Scunthorpe, Sheffield, Somerset, Workington. TBC: Peterborough (see above).
*Points limit: Unchanged at 42.50
*Premier League: Each team meets each other once at home and once away for a 22/24-match programme. The two ‘extra’ home and away fixtures which were built in for 2014 have been removed. The league title play-offs will still be contested by the top six teams, but no longer under the mini-league system. Every tie will be on a knockout basis, with the first and second placed clubs progressing directly to the semi-finals. Quarter-finals: 3rd v 6th and 4th v 5th. Semi-finals: 1st v 4th/5th, 2nd v 3rd/6th.
*Premier League Knockout Cup: This competition is to be sponsored by Travel Plus Tours in 2015.Draw: Round 1 – Newcastle v Scunthorpe; Sheffield v Edinburgh; Ipswich v Berwick; Rye House v Workington; Plymouth v Peterborough. Bye – Glasgow, Redcar, Somerset.Round 2 – Glasgow v Newcastle/Scunthorpe, Sheffield/Edinburgh v Redcar; Ipswich/Berwick v Rye House/Workington; Plymouth/Peterborough v Somerset.
*League Cup: Unchanged from 2014 with three groups of four teams (or one group of five should Peterborough return).
*In all two-legged aggregate events in the Premier League, there will be no tactical rides permitted.English said: “We’ve run for several seasons without tactical rides in the Knockout Cup, and we’ve now extended that to all aggregate ties.“We’re very hopeful that the league will consist of 13 clubs, and to that end Peterborough were included in the KO Cup draw.“It’s been done in such a way that it can be altered if they don’t make it to the tapes, but we all sincerely hope they will be able to run.”
TEAM GREAT BRITAINGreat Britain manager Alun Rossiter will remain in his position for 2015.British Youth co-boss Phil Morris has stood down, and the BSPA would like to sincerely thank him for his efforts. Neil Vatcher will now assume overall control of British Youth and Junior events, which are flourishing with rider numbers in the 8-14 age groups having doubled to over 50 in recent years.English said: “We have every faith in Neil to do an excellent job, the news he has brought is very encouraging, and we understand we need to be helping our young British riders.”