King’s Lynn boss Rob Lyon saddened by Peterborough’s Elite League exit
- Credit: IAN BURT
King's Lynn Stars' co-promoter Rob Lyon is shocked by the demise of Elite League rivals Peterborough.
The Panthers will not race in speedway's top tier for 2014 after owners Rick Frost and Julie Mahoney announced they are no longer prepared to run the club after losing their main sponsor. The A47 battles between the two neighbours have been a highlight on the fixture calendar in recent seasons since Lynn returned to the Elite League in 2011 and Lyon admits he will miss the annual match-up. Leicester will replace the Panthers in the Elite next year, although the sports governing body has indicated Peterborough may be allowed to operate lower down the pecking order if new owners emerge at the East of England Showground club.
'It was a shocker when I first heard the news,' said Lyon. 'Speaking purely from the King's Lynn perspective you want Peterborough to race because that is our local rivalry and I'm sure everyone connected with the clubs from fans to riders have enjoyed those meetings between us. To potentially lose that rivalry is a shame. You have to feel for the owners really who have put so much of their time and money into it, but I guess there comes a time when things reach a stage the only choice you can make is to walk away from it. That doesn't make it any easier to deal with. Hopefully the club can be saved because for any club to potentially pull out is a situation I don't think the sport in general can afford to happen. What you want is more clubs to come on board and more competition. On the flip side, Leicester will come in and they seem a very progressive looking club.'
Panthers' joint owners released a statement citing financial difficulties as the primary factor in their decision to step away from the club they originally rescued in 2008.
'This was a very difficult decision to make, having put our heart and soul into Peterborough speedway for over five years,' they said. 'We faced several problems, primarily the conclusion of the five years of the Readypower sponsorship, and without another team sponsor coming in or a firm television deal, we couldn't commit ourselves to another year not knowing where we would stand financially. Without a confirmed television contract we had nothing to offer to a team sponsor at the level we would need one to come in at.
'I'm very sad about it – everyone knows at times we've become disillusioned along the way, but this isn't the time to go into that. We've put a heck of a lot of time and effort, not to mention money, into it and I don't know where we could take it now – it's sad and unfortunate that we've got to this point but there has to come a time where you have to say enough.'
Both clubs missed out on the play-offs last season but Lyon expects the Stars to be competitive again as they aim to build a team to comply with the new points scoring threshold agreed at the recent annual general meeting held in Coventry.
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Teams must work towards a 32-point limit for their top five riders, with two reserve places being occupied by riders eligible to ride in the National League.
'This time of year doesn't really change,' said Lyon. 'You will be sitting down with riders and formulating a team and we try to do things as early as we can but, to be honest, most teams are on the ball. Once the rules are set they are ready to go but we are pretty confident we will put something good together. In terms of the 32 point ceiling it really depends on how you perceive the reserves. They won't have an average, so it come downs to your perception of how you want to go about it, but those are the rules and whatever was thrown at us we were confident we could put together a competitive team. That is what was agreed at the conference and that is what we have to run through now.'