Buster Chapman is determined to make a big difference on BSPA’s management committee
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Buster Chapman is relishing the opportunity to help aid speedway's progress in 2015.
Many critics believe the two-wheel sport has been stuck in a rut for a number of years with declining gates just one of the many problems facing clubs in the United Kingdom. But the King's Lynn Stars' owner has remained something of a shining light throughout the dark days with his efforts at the Norfolk Arena attracting respectable attendances as well as praise for the state of its circuit – awarded the prestigious track of the year prize at the weekend's annual general meeting.
And now the 56-year-old is looking forward to passing on his two decades' worth of experience after being elected to the British Speedway Promoters' Association (BSPA) management committee.
Chapman said: 'I wasn't in the room at the time and I was nominated by a fellow promoter from Swindon. At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it in terms of the time and effort it's going to take up.
'But then I thought I'm always moaning about things and maybe now is the right time to step up and see if I can make a difference. The more and more I think about it the more and more I'm excited about the opportunities I'll hopefully get to have an input. I want to try and help make the sport simpler, more entertaining and help it improve as a product. Hopefully I can stick around long enough to make a difference.'
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Chapman has been at the helm of Norfolk's speedway outfit for 22 years and has become widely respected as one of the best track curators in the business. As well as being delighted with the major changes made at the three-day AGM ahead of the 2015 campaign, the man who also owns Lynn's non-league football club was ecstatic at picking up an award for his tireless work on the Saddlebow Road shale.
'Some of the things that have been implemented are very, very important,' added the stalwart.
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'Like no more farcical play-off situations where you can ride for another club which has finished in the top four. I was pleased with how amicable the meeting was and the new ideas that were coming out. We seem to be going in the right direction.
'As for the track award, I'm also really pleased for the team that help me. We take a lot of pride in our track and a lot of work goes into it. To be recognised for that is nice because everyone knows it's my 'sacred turf'.'
Stars' team boss Rob Lyon can now start putting together his line up for next term as Lynn – beaten play-off semi-finalists last term – look to spearhead another push for their maiden Elite League glory. They will face only seven other sides after Eastbourne Eagles pulled out of the top flight for financial reasons.
What else will be different when speedway returns for the 2015 season
Here are the key points, concerning the Elite League, from speedway's annual three-day AGM.
1. Eight teams will compete in the sport's top-flight next year. They are: Belle Vue, Coventry, King's Lynn, Lakeside, Leicester, Poole, Swindon and Wolverhampton.
2. As expected Eastbourne have been granted permission to put their EL licence on ice for a year. They will be applying for third-tier National League membership to see if that level can make racing at Arlington financially sustainable again.
3. Clubs will face each other twice at home and away for a 28-match programme. Play-offs for the top four as before.
4. Points limit raised from 32 to 34 for the top-five members of team's line-up.
5. The Fast Track Draft, being held on November 26, will continue after a successful first season. Clubs will include a rider from each category (one and two) in their one-to-seven.
6. A list of guest riders for the top grade of the FTD will be available after issues last season in sourcing replacements.
7. Doubling-up is now restricted to two years per rider, effective from next term onwards. Two places in the top five of the team are available for a DU position, as before.
8. Free weeks during the build-up to major Speedway Grand Prix meetings will help ease the busy schedules of world championship competitors.
9. There will be only one 'tactical ride' (going for double points) available if a team is 10 points or more in arrears. Timing of availability of this facility remains unchanged.
10. Although the transfer deadline remains in place a window will open for seven days prior to the play-offs to enable clubs to replace injured riders with men from outside the league.
11. Should guests be required in the end-of-season showcase fixtures, it is no longer allowed for managers to select riders from sides that have also qualified.
12. A revised race format will be drawn up to address the issue of visiting number fours not competing until heat five.
13. Any home win is now granted three points, rather than just two being given for a victory by a margin of one to six. The away-scoring system still applies.
14. When a rider is unavailable to his club as he is required to race in a rearranged fixture abroad, there will now be a guest facility available.
15. The yellow and black helmet colour will return, rather than yellow only. This is in response to comments from supporters regarding identification of riders under floodlights.
16. Next year's AGM will be brought forward a month (October) to take place within the season allowing clubs chance to speak to their riders before the end of the campaign.