2020 was a frustrating year for British Speedway, mainly due to the fact that there was a lack of racing for everyone. But you know what? It isn’t the first frustrating year that British Speedway has endured, far from it in fact.
Much of the frustration in previous years has stemmed from an unavailability of riders, fixture clashes and the much maligned doubling up or doubling down, something which was supposed to be getting reduced year on year moving forward.
With that being said, the AGM is on the horizon and I see some Championship clubs actively seeking Premiership team places for some of their riders, which surely defeats the purpose?
Now don’t think for a second that I am wanting to penalise the riders, far from it. I have absolutely nothing against the riders earning extra money but it is the fans who miss out because one of their riders is away riding for another club. It simply wouldn’t happen in any other sport.
Lionel Messi doesn’t miss a Barcelona game because he’s playing for Valencia that night does he?
Ask any fan what they want to see when they arrive at the track and they will almost always tell you that they want to see two full strength sides of seven riders go head to head and see who’s the better side. Ask them what they don’t want to see and the likelihood is they’ll say they don’t want to see two select sides made up of riders from other teams.
Now I’ve nothing against riders doubling up as such as long as it is done for the right reasons, and as far as British Speedway goes, it should be done to benefit the British riders in my opinion.
As things stand at the moment we have seven Premiership clubs, 12 Championship clubs and seven National / Development League clubs. That means there are 182 team places to fill.
There are a couple of ways to look at this, and with that in mind, I’m just a guy on a blog writing a load of nonsense so this would perhaps never work…but I’m going to have a go anyway.
Supposing we stick with seven man teams, lets say that the reserve riders in both the Premiership and Championship reserve riders have to be British, under 21 in the Championship and under 24 in the Premiership. Allow them to be protected similar to the draft system of a few years back and allow them to double up between National League and Championship or Championship and Premiership, allowing for progress as is the idea. This would benefit both the teams an Team GB domestically and internationally in my opinion as it encourages progress.
In an ideal world the 1-5 in both Premiership and Championship would consist of no doubling up riders, allowing teams to have a certain air of individuality about them.
As far as the National League goes that should obviously be intended for younger riders but there has to be some experienced riders there too for the youngsters to learn from. If it were possible, there would be under 18 reserves for each side.
Naturally not every British rider is going to become a world champion under a scheme like this, but it would allow British Speedway to utilise it’s crop of talented young riders and allow them to progress. If only one rider out of 50 made it to a Grand Prix it will have been a worthwhile experiment.
As things stand at the moment, Team GB’s two top riders are Tai Woffinden and Robert Lambert, and they are our only two genuinely world class riders. Woffinden learned his trade in Australia and Lambert gained valuable experience in his early career by riding in Germany.
Is it high time there was another truly British produced World Champion? Is it high time there was a truly British produced Grand Prix rider?
A combination of allowing the British lads that little more track time and the connections that the Team GB set up has might just make that a possibility but if we don’t try then we won’t ever know!
And before I’m accused of being against foreign riders, don’t be ridiculous! I absolutely love the colour and flair that foreign riders bring to the party. Speedway is an international sport and we all want to see the best riders we can out on track, but as a fan of British Speedway too, I think we all want to see us compete on an international level with the Poles, Danes and Swedes on a regular basis.
Now my guess is that something like this will never happen, and that unavailability of riders is a potential stumbling block for this. With that in mind another way to look at this would be six man teams. I’m not sure how much I like that idea but if it was going to help the state of British speedway moving forward then I’d be all for it.
I did a piece elsewhere on riders from obscure speedway nations and in that had to cover speedway nations which were once a driving force that had since faded into relative obscurity.
For those interested this can be found here https://www.talkspeedway.co.uk/post/speedway-nations-of-obscurity
I don’t want to see Britain fall into that category, none of us do.
We have a very talented crop of young British riders just now, perhaps more than have had for several years. Naturally there will be some of them will progress further than others but why not give them the opportunities of progression while the opportunity is there?
Of course if you wish to agree, or disagree with the Mythman, have an idea for a feature, or you simply want to chew the fat over all things speedway, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via the JB Speedway Media Facebook page. If your compliments, or indeed gripes can be contained to limited characters, you can send me a tweet @Mythman666.
Until next time…and there will be a next time.
Right I’ll hae’tae gan