OXFORD SET FOR PREMIERSHIP, CHAMPIONSHIP & NATIONAL LEAGUE RACING IN 2024
Oxford will compete in all three tiers of British Speedway in 2024 as Birmingham Brummies join them in the Premiership.
The Cowley club, competing as the Oxford Spires, returns to Britain’s top tier for the first time since their closure in 2007, with the Oxford Cheetahs racing on in the Championship and Oxford Chargers defending their National League title.
It’s an astonishing turn of fortunes for a club that returned to the sport after a 15-year absence in 2022, with campaigners winning a tireless fight to bring speedway back to Cowley.
They are joined in the top tier by Birmingham Brummies, who make the brave step up with Monday the only night available to them at their Perry Barr home next year. With only Premiership action staged on Mondays, CEO Nigel Tolley brings the club back into Britain’s top league for the first time since 2014.
The clubs join champions Sheffield, Ipswich, Belle Vue, King’s Lynn and Leicester, with the Lions led by new owner Paul Cairns, who has purchased the club from the Bates family.
The Premiership will be without Wolverhampton and Peterborough, whose licences have been put on ice, with both left homeless for 2024. Wolves owner Chris van Straaten is bidding to re-open the Black Country club at a new motorsport complex after Monmore Green landlords Entain declined to renew their lease, while a consortium is also battling to save the Panthers as their East of England Showground faces redevelopment for housing.
The Premiership team-building point limit has been set at 40.00 for six riders, with each team required to select a Rising Star – a young British rider. There will be no limits on the number of PGE Ekstraliga riders each club can sign, opening the door for teams to recruit more of the sport’s biggest names. The top four clubs will enter the play-offs and the Knockout Cup will also be staged.
The Championship consists of nine clubs once again, with Workington Comets stepping up from the National League at their new Northside home, replacing Birmingham.
Britain’s second tier will also feature champions Glasgow, Poole, Oxford, Redcar, Edinburgh, Berwick, Scunthorpe and Plymouth, with each team built to a 38.00-point limit for seven riders – a low limit necessitated by the loss of a number of top riders from the league, plus a desire to develop a new generation of stars stepping up from the National League.
The Championship play-offs will now feature just four teams instead of six, with the Knockout Cup and BSN Series remaining on the calendar.
British promoters have also committed themselves to developing speedway’s future stars, with every club required to play its part in youth development through at least one of three options.
Six teams will compete in the National League, which some feared may not continue for 2024 due to a lack of numbers. Any teams not staging National League action are required to either host events as part of the new National Individual series or take part in a youth programme of second-half events – staged after their first team has raced.
FIM Speedway race director Phil Morris will continue his role as Premiership CEO – a position he took up at the start of this year.
One FIM Speedway innovation will be coming to all British tracks next year, with every club required to install the electronic starting system. This device raises the tapes at random intervals, instead of the referee releasing them manually, making it harder for riders to anticipate when the tapes will lift and gain an unfair advantage.
Teams can now track any of their seven riders in heat 15 – regardless of how many points they have scored or their position in the team’s average charts, simplifying the complex selection rules for Britain’s nominated race.
Clubs now have the option to draft in a guest if the rider placed fourth or fifth in their average charts is absent, where previously only rider replacement was permitted.
The eight-day rule – which prevents a rider guesting at the same track in an eight-day period – will not apply for the play-offs. But a rider can only compete for one team in the play-offs – as a guest or a permanent member of the side.
There will no longer be an end-of-August transfer window. Instead, teams can make changes up to the point when they have completed 75 percent of their regular league matches.
Four riders were also granted testimonials – Thomas Jorgensen, Kyle Newman, Charles Wright and Kyle Howarth.
Commenting on their plans for 2024, BSPL chairman Rob Godfrey said: “Youth development is key in what we want to achieve throughout the sport, and there have been many positive discussions on that front.
“One of the reasons for setting the Championship points at 38 was that we need to bring the youth through, and the other consideration was simply through determining the number of riders available multiplied by the number of teams.
“The emphasis is very much on bringing riders back into that league and also to rebuild with far more opportunities for the youngsters, who will hopefully one day be our new No.1s, and the 38-point limit achieves that.
“The new system for youth development will involve every club, and I’ve been very pleased with the enthusiasm shown by everyone as we head in this direction.
“We are also very keen to continue our work to diversify the sport, and to provide opportunities for women who want to get involved, and real progress has been made on that front this year.
“It’s very sad for the Premiership to have lost two such well-established clubs in Peterborough and Wolverhampton given the circumstances at both, and we sincerely hope they will be able to return in the future.
“On the positive, it’s great to have Workington moving back into the Championship after what they achieved at the venue this year, and obviously the other main story is Oxford competing in both the Premiership and the Championship.
“Their return has been a huge success in the last two seasons, and they showed a real desire to participate in both top leagues in 2024. They are confident that their business model will work and that they will deliver a good product in both, and neither league will suffer for it.
“We also wish Birmingham well for their move into the Premiership and it’s very good to see the sport continuing at Perry Barr.
“Overall, I believe we have worked together to make changes which will benefit the sport as a whole at all levels, and we look forward to the new season starting next spring.”