By Henry Chard

The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches will continue to race in the top flight of British Speedway in 2020 following the conclusion of the AGM this week.

Ipswich will race in a seven-team Premiership, with Sheffield Tigers making the move up and Poole Pirates dropping down to the second tier.

The Witches will race against Belle Vue, King’s Lynn, Peterborough, Sheffield, Swindon and Wolverhampton. Race nights remain Mondays and Thursdays with a points limit for teams of 42.50. Teams will race each other twice at home and twice away with the top four in the table qualifying for the play-offs.

The Suffolk side have been drawn in the southern section of the Premiership Supporters’ Cup against King’s Lynn, Peterborough and Swindon. The top club from the section will progress to the final to race the winner of the northern section that consists of Belle Vue, Sheffield and Wolverhampton.

This will be an early season competition with the final scheduled to take place on the week commencing June 1. The clubs wish to further examine and grow the social media interaction of this competition.

A proposal will also be considered at next year’s AGM for clubs to retain their existing one-to-seven for the following campaign, with any changes to that team seeing them return to the points limit.

Scunthorpe promoter Rob Godfrey has taken over as chairman of the BSPA with Sheffield’s Damien Bates now vice-chairman. Ipswich promoter Chris Louis will now be a director of the association alongside Somerset’s Debbie Hancock and Leicester’s Stewart Dickson.

The BSPA wish to place on record their thanks to outgoing chairman Keith Chapman and directors Neil Machin and Colin Pratt for their service and dedication over many years.

Godfrey said: “One message which has come out very strongly from supporters is that they don’t want things tinkered with, and we’ve taken that on board.

“I would like to pay tribute to what Keith has done during his time as chairman. I started the journey with him four years ago, and a lot of people don’t realise just how hard he has worked over that time.

“Keith battled in meetings with high-profile people to ensure the survival of Belle Vue, and he put his own money into Leicester to stop it shutting – and then to move Peterborough into the Premiership last winter.

“The day-to-day running of the BSPA is so different now to what it was four years ago, he’s been the leader of that, and it’s sad that his personal and work circumstances have seen him stand down – and my thanks also to Neil and Colin for their work over that time.

“But I’m very proud and pleased to have the new team around me. We want to take the next step with some fresh ideas, and also, it’s great to welcome Debbie as the first female director since Pat Bliss over 20 years ago.

“We do have plenty to look forward to, we have a fantastic new TV deal with Eurosport on a massive platform, and it’s great to have brought in real commercial expertise via outside agencies to work on this and other issues.

“Naturally, league sponsorship is another step we would like to take, and another key feature of the AGM was that many clubs are working hard on promotional initiatives, which they will make public in the build-up to the new season.

“We also have a thriving youth scene, which is now paying dividends with 26 riders who have graduated from that scene racing in the Championship last season, and there’s more to come in 2020, so there are plenty of good things happening.”

Ipswich promoter Louis had this to say on this year’s AGM:

“It’s an honour to accept my position on the board of British Speedway and join the new chairman Rob Godfrey, vice-chairman Damien Bates and fellow director Debbie Hancock.  It’s a very exciting time for the sport as we enter a new TV contract with Eurosport.  I’m looking forward to working on new initiatives and am pleased with how our AGM has gone.”

More reaction to follow in the near future as we build up to the new season in 2020.