Bandits demand changes to rules and format for 2012

Berwick Bandits director John Anderson will head to Birmingham for speedway’s annual promoters’ conference this week armed with a list of requests and demands for change ahead of the new season.

Competition formats and regulations for the 2012 season will be on the agenda at the British Speedway Promotors’ Association’s AGM, and the Bandits believe a raft of changes need to be made to retain the interest of supporters throughout the season.

“I’m going to this meeting with an agenda,” said Anderson. “There were a number of things about the league in this past season which didn’t work at all well. I’m going down there, to Birmingham, and I’ll be thumping the table to get our viewpoint of how to improve Premier League speedway.”

Anderson will be Berwick’s sole representative, with fellow-promoter Ryan Anderson staying at North Berwick to run the family business. But the Bandits’ board of directors have discussed their position fully, and John is heading off with a fully-prepared shopping list of the club’s wants and needs. Bandits finished ninth in the 14-team Premier League, but they believe the championship format should be changed so that the title is decided on a play-off system. They also favour changes to the scheduling and format of cup competitions.

“There were some good things that happened last term,” he admitted. “The rolling averages which decreed how teams can be constructed were a good thing – we’ll keep them, I trust.

“But oh dear, the lack of viable competitions needs to be addressed. We want a Premier Trophy to get the season going, then a full league and cup programme, and a system of play-offs to decide the title.

“If we reinstate all that, and maybe have the next four clubs in the final league table contesting a Young Shield competition, then the terrible drop-off in interest (admittedly, coinciding with a succession of very wet weekends) that happened in the last third of 2011 shouldn’t recur, I’d hope.

“Most clubs would hopefully have plenty of meaningful events to present, right through to October, we feel”.

Anderson has promised to “report back” to speedway fans, with preliminary news of conference decisions and even the Bandits’ first signings to be announced at the Supporters Club’s Christmas Dance, in Berwick Rugby Club on Saturday, December 3. Tickets for this event, which are reported to be ‘selling like hot-cakes’ can be ordered from Lisa Youngman on 07773-759864 at £7 to BSC members, £10 to non- members.

“Bringing the first news of some of our plans to this dance is the least we could do for our Supporters Club,” said a speedway club spokesperson. “The BSC took our collective breath away at our own end-of-season party, by handing us a cheque for £3,000 for our Fence Fund. These fans are the lifeblood of this club, and their committee works so hard, helping us prosper in so many ways – hopefully, bringing them some news on December 3 will allow us to show our gratitude for their efforts”.

Meanwhile, work is under way to instal the new polyfoam fence around Shielfield. Supporters volunteered their time on Sunday morning to begin dismantling the old fence around the track to make way for the new safety fence, which is being described by the club as the “newest, and most-modern in global speedway”.

The new fence was a factor in the decision taken by the Federation Internationale de Motorcyclisme (FIM), the world body controlling global motorcycle sport, to stage one of five qualifying rounds in the 2012 Grand Prix Challenge at the Berwick circuit.

“Although the event is still a provisional date for our calendar – the polyfoam fence must be installed, our track and stadium examined and approved by FIM representatives and, most importantly, our own local council authorities have to green-light some factors surrounding such a huge occasion – this is a fantastic boost for Berwick, and for speedway in the north,” said Anderson.

The polyfoam fence will carry giant advertisments for the fence fund sponsors. The club is anxious to offer this space to local, as well as national organisations. “They’ll get their names and motifs emblazoned on it, of course” confirmed Commercial Manager Julie Newton. “Just get in touch with me.”

Enquiries to Julie Newton on 07840-998845 or julie@berwickbandits.co.uk.