CONFERENCE STATEMENT ISSUED

NEWS Monday 17th November 2008, 11:58am

by Mike Hunter

The BSPA have issued their statement from the annual conference, announcing probably the largest package of rule changes ever.

Wading through some of the grandiose pronouncements, the things which will interest supporters most are:

ELITE LEAGUE: Clubs unchanged from last year, points limit 39.90 as previously agreed.

PREMIER LEAGUE: 15 clubs, out go Isle of Wight, Mildenhall and Reading, in come Newport plus a new unnamed southern club. Points limit 42.50.

NATIONAL LEAGUE: A new division which it is hoped will contain at least 10 teams including Isle of Wight, Weymouth and Plymouth. Dave Pavitt will oversee this tier of UK Speedway.

LEAGUE POINTS SYSTEM: This is a major change and it remains to be seen whether it will excite or confuse. Here we go:

Home loss: 0 points.

Home draw: 1 point.

Home win by 1-6 points: 2 points.

Home win by 7+: 3 points.

Away loss by 7+: 0 points.

Away loss by 1-6 points: 1 point.

Away draw: 2 points.

Away win by 1-6 points: 3 points.

Away win by 7+: 4 points.

TACTICAL RIDES: There will now be no 15 metre tactical sub ride. Instead one TR may be used when 10 or more down, and a second if subsequently 12 or more down.

DOUBLING UP: Allowed for PL riders with averages below 8.

PREMIER TROPHY: Two groups of 7 teams (which presumably means the new club won't compete).

PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAYOFFS: As before. The Elite League Playoff semis will apparently be on a home and away basis (thus increasing the prospect of the fourth placed team perhaps becoming champions).

TEAM POSITIONS: Top average rider at no. 1, the remaining 2 to 5 at any position.

TACTICAL GATE : In the KO Cup only, teams who are 6 or more points behind can select gates on 2 occasions. This is in addition to the TRs though they can't be used in the same heats.

What does all this mean for Monarchs? The points limit was the main concern, and although 42.5 is presented as an increase on last season, the reality is of course that each year the weakening of teams is compounded. We will have to lose 5.63 points to get under the limit, and that is a lot.

Tactical rides will assume greater rather than less significance, given the complicated system of league points scoring.

The introduction of the National League will be a good thing if the target of 10 teams can be reached. The Conference was struggling last year. Teams like Buxton and Sittingbourne can hopefully be accomodated at a suitable level.

The rest is mainly tinkering, and fans will form their opinions whether there has been any improvement, or indeed whether such changes were necessary.