SPEEDWAY: Cook is angry at his Panthers exclusion

Craig Cook.
Craig Cook.
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Top British racer Craig Cook has described the decision to block his move to Peterborough Panthers as ‘laughable’ and ‘embarrassing’.

The British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) have thrown out the city club’s new-look line-up featuring Cook and fellow British rider Tom Stokes.

Their management committee has claimed the capture of Cook ‘is not in the best interests of the sport’ due to the fact that his Elite League club, Belle Vue, and Panthers both have Friday-night home fixtures.

But there would only be three clashes and the decision that has not gone down well with a rider who finished second in the British Final last summer.

Cook said: “Unfortunately I have to say I’m not really surprised. I’ve been in speedway for seven years now and you have to expect there to always be a problem even though there should not be one.

“I want to ride for Peterborough. It’s a club I’ve ridden for before and it is a great track. I’ve signed a contract and want this matter to get resolved as quickly as possible.

“The excuse the BSPA have come up with doesn’t seem logical or a genuine explanation. If I was going to miss every Friday I could understand it, and I would not even have signed, but there are only three clashes.

“There are a lot of riders who will miss far more meetings than that through doubling-up and there is nothing in the rulebook that says I can’t ride for two clubs that race on the same night.

“If it doesn’t get resolved quickly, the next thing we might have to consider is legal action.

“I find it laughable and embarrassing to be involved in a situation like this with my own federation.

“I’ve had no contact with the BSPA. It is being dealt with very poorly.

“This is why there is a lack of British talent. There is very, very little support for British riders.

“Something is going to have to change for the future of the sport.

“Doubling up is the best thing for British riders. The likes of Chris Harris, Scott Nicholls and other top riders would do it given the opportunity and it would bring in the crowds

“You just have to look at the Swedish league, how they look after their own riders and the talent that comes through as a result.”

The BSPA management committee is made up of chairman Buster Chapman (who promotes at King’s Lynn), vice chairman Rob Godfrey (Scunthorpe), George English (Newcastle), Chris van Straaten (Wolverhampton) and Colin Pratt (Swindon).

Their decision has sparked an angry response. An online petition launched this morning had already attracted more than 800 signatures of support by early afternoon.

Cook added: “I didn’t know I had this many friends! Seriously, the support has been awesome and for that many people to be behind is phenomenal.”