Speedway: Lions forced to play waiting game in bid to join the elite
Leicester Lions' bid to join the Elite League has been put on hold for 12 months.
British Speedway bosses decided at their annual general meeting that there would be no addition to the sport's top flight, and that it would remain at 10 clubs.
Their primary consideration was that, in the current economic climate, it was in the best interest of all parties that the balance of both the Elite and Premier Leagues should be maintained.
Although the Lions remain hugely ambitious, they were happy to agree and be part of the bigger picture.
In addition, it may only delay their top-flight dream by 12 months as British Speedway has invited them to re-apply at the end of next season.
Lions co-promoter Alan Jones said: "You have to remember that we are in a very difficult economic climate.
"Everybody is struggling to make ends meet and speedway is no different.
"In the Premier League, the nearest track to Leicester is Sheffield, some 75 miles away. Yet, in the Elite League, there are four clubs – Birmingham, Coventry, Peterborough and Wolverhampton – based a lot nearer.
"Leicester fans wanting to watch Elite League speedway would go there. If we had gone up, then these other clubs may have lost this fringe support.
"Given the times we are in, it was felt it was time to support one another.
"We could, potentially, damage another club's business, so it was seen as being in the best interests of British speedway that we remained in the Premier League.
"We can re-apply next year. We are a big-city club who would add value to the Elite League. We are only two years old but David (Hemsley, promoter) and myself still have a vision to be in the top flight."
Now, the Lions are turning their attention to recruitment.
"We have already started talking to riders," said Jones. "Some of them are part of last season's successful team, others are new faces. We want continuity though, and we are hoping some familiar faces will be returning.
"Everything was put on hold until we knew which league we would be in, but we will, hopefully, announce our first signing in the next few days."
Plans are in place for changes to the track in February, which the Lions hope will produce more exciting racing.
There is a bonus for fans, too – season ticket and admission prices will remain the same for the third year running.