BERWICK have made their fifth signing for the 2012 season with the confirmation that Czech rider Filip Sitera is to join the Bandits.
But whilst the 23 year-old jets into Shielfield Park, the Borders have revealed that four of last year’s side will not be returning in the new year.
Club assets Josef Franc and Jade Mudgway have agreed terms to ride for Sheffield and Glasgow respectively, whilst the Swedish pair of Linus Eklof and Lunvig Lindgren, whom many had tipped as possible starters, will both be turning out elsewhere.
A club statement said Eklof is ambitious and sees his future in the Elite League, whilst Lindgren has agreed to join Premier League rivals Newcastle.
Sitera rode in the Elite League last season with King’s Lynn, and previously represented Coventry.
“Filip comes with a pretty good record so far,” announced a happy team manager Ian Rae.
“He was his country’s U21 champion in both 2006 and 2007 – and collected their U19 title the same two years. Over here, he won the Elite League title with Coventry in 2010, and helped King’s Lynn enjoy a solid season last year.
“I think we’re very lucky to attract such a class act, especially on a confirmed average of only 5.15!
“Filip has been on my radar for some time but to be honest I thought that he would be staying in the top league or just riding in Europe next season.
“My thanks to King’s Lynn and in particular Jonathan Chapman for getting things up and running when I got wind that Filip could be interested in Premier League competition. The deal, everything involved, took less than two hours on Friday afternoon, with signatures done and dusted too!
“He knows all about Berwick from our own Czech riders of recent vintage and from Kozza Smith, who he raced with – and crashed into – at King’s Lynn last year.
“Last season he averaged around 4.50 in the Elite League but this has been reduced because of the rolling averages.”
With regards to the departure of both Franc and Mudgway Rae added: “Both riders have served us exceedingly well, and had circumstances been different ‘Pepe’ especially would have been a welcome returnee – but his lucrative weekend long-tracking commitments are such that we cannot allow him to miss as many of our Saturday night matches as was the case last year.
“But it must be said that he goes on loan to Sheffield – who race the majority of their fixtures midweek – with our fullest blessing and very best wishes. He has always been a stalwart servant to Berwick, and will no doubt be a thorn in our side when he returns with his new team!
“Jade is another lad who will remain our asset, and might well benefit from time away next year, racing at a different home circuit. Like ‘Pepe,’ he goes with our very deepest regards – and who knows what might happen in the future?
“One day, either of them – even both – could be back in black-and-gold, and no-one would be happier than me if that were to turn out to be the case.”
Of Eklof and Lindgren he stated: “Our hands are tied in this respect as we only had them as loanees – Linus is ambitious, and wants to confine his British racing to the Elite League, while Ludvig’s parent club (Birmingham) have agreed a deal in which he will go to a different Premier League club.”
With two places to fill in their starting line-up Berwick have 11.21 points to play with.