BRITISH Speedway Chairman Alex Harkess has revealed how negotiations are ongoing to secure a new broadcast deal for the sport for the 2014 season and beyond.
And Harkess, who remains at the helm for a fifth successive season, says there is an air of optimism that these talks will prove successful in the not too distant future.
The Edinburgh promoter was speaking immediately after the conclusion of the AGM in Coventry, where key decisions were reached regarding the immediate future of the sport in the UK.
Harkess said: “Our ongoing discussions are proving very positive and I am confident we will bring this to a satisfactory conclusion. I am looking forward to sharing an announcement with our partners in due course.
“There has been an atmosphere of reality which has led to changes in team structure and league membership. I am saddened to acknowledge that Peterborough have resigned their position in the top league and that their owners have chosen to leave the sport.
“All is not lost as there is an opportunity for new owners to consider purchasing Peterborough, and we have left the door ajar for the club to participate in British Speedway.
“Peterborough’s place will be taken by Leicester, which retains the top league at ten clubs, and the Premier League will be at twelve.”
The senior league’s teams will work to a 32-point limit for their top five riders, with two places being occupied by riders from the National League.
This is a major shot in the arm for our young British riders and will fast-track their development, which will in turn encourage more youngsters to enter the sport.
Harkess added: “Of course, our current World Champion, Tai Woffinden, has reached the very top from his start in the National League.
“It was an absolute privilege and pleasure to welcome Tai to our conference as guest of honour to receive congratulations and a standing ovation from our members who are extremely proud of his achievements.”
The following key points will give supporters a flavour of the discussions with more detail to be revealed in due course:
Unchanged from 2013: Alex Harkess (Chairman), Jon Cook (Vice-Chairman), Chris Van Straaten, David Hoggart, George English.
Elite League reserve member: Keith Chapman
Premier League reserve member: Rob Godfrey
10 teams: Belle Vue, Birmingham, Coventry, Eastbourne, King’s Lynn, Lakeside, Leicester, Poole, Swindon, Wolverhampton.
Points limit 32 (top five riders); National League riders at No.6 and No.7
Teams meet each other twice home and away – minimum 18 home fixtures, 36 in league programme.
Play-offs as before (for top four teams).
12 Teams: Berwick, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ipswich, Newcastle, Plymouth, Redcar, Rye House, Scunthorpe, Sheffield, Somerset, Workington.
Points limit 42.50
Extended regular league programme giving 14 home and 14 away fixtures.
Play-offs as before (for top six teams).
League Cup: Three groups of four teams
KO Cup retained as before
Shared Events: The format of these meetings remains as in 2013, and dates and venues will be confirmed at a later date.
Team GB: The resignation of Great Britain manager Neil Middleditch was accepted, and the BSPA wishes to place on record its appreciation for Neil’s efforts during his two spells in charge. Applications for the position will be considered in January.