King’s Lynn miss out on Elite League derbies

King's Lynn Stars' hopes of renewing Elite League rivalries with near neighbours Peterborough have finally ended following confirmation both the Panthers and reigning champions Coventry will not line up in 2011.

Buster Chapman's new boys will now contest an eight-team top flight after the sports' governing body (BSPA) reiterated Peterborough and Coventry will miss the latest domestic campaign, which begins next month.

The well-established Elite League duo had been locked in protracted talks with the BSPA to resolve issues relating to team building limits from the annual promoters' conference.

Both clubs initiated legal proceedings despite the two parties looking to have reached a compromise deal early in the New Year – but the BSPA hierarchy have appeared to close the door on any short term return.

'The BSPA is disappointed to announce that it has been unable to resolve the ongoing dispute with Coventry and Peterborough on an amicable basis,' it said in a statement. 'The BSPA made an offer to both Coventry and Peterborough on January 31 which would have seen them both resume their membership of the Elite League with immediate effect.

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'The offer would also have permitted both Coventry and Peterborough to continue with their proposed legal action, including claims for compensation if they suffer any losses. That offer was rejected. From the point of view of the sport it is disappointing that both Coventry and Peterborough would rather walk away from participation in the 2011 Elite League than accept an open offer to resume their membership, particularly as they could have done so without prejudice to their proposed legal action.

'Given the proximity of the new season the BSPA has been left with no alternative but to finalise arrangements for the 2011 season without Coventry and Peterborough. In this regard the fixture list will be published shortly.'

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Both clubs were reportedly ready to compromise on issues arising from the annual conference, which included reductions in Sky television money, the imposition of one eight point averaged rider per team and a higher conversion rate for riders wishing to step up from the Premier League.

Peterborough – who saw both Kenneth Bjerre and Niels Kristian-Iversen link up with the Stars during the winter impasse – issued a counter statement citing one major unresolved sticking point.

It read: 'The biggest stumbling block all along has been the refusal of the BSPA to agree to an independent person or panel who would adjudicate when individual tracks disagreed with decisions based on democratically voted rules and a 12 month moratorium on introducing new rules and regulations that had not been voted in unanimously.

'There is, to our knowledge, no other professional sport that passes new rules in the closed season that come into force the following season.

'It is an incredibly sad day for our fans - and for us. We have done absolutely everything we could to find a satisfactory solution to the rift. As long ago as December 20 a formula that would have allowed both clubs to continue in the Elite League was agreed at a meeting at our legal representatives' offices in Birmingham.'

The Stars will open their season with a curtain-raising double header against fellow newcomers Birmingham for the Elite Elevation Trophy, with the first leg at the Norfolk Arena on March 23 and the Perry Barr return 24 hours later.

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