Panthers have been given a radical revamp in their bid for Premier League honours.
Promoter Ged Rathbone has snapped up Great Britain star Craig Cook to spearhead the city club’s charge for the rest of the campaign.
Number one Cook, who led Edinburgh to a 2014 treble and 2015 double at this level, will arrive on a monster 10.35 average and is joined by Panthers’ number eight Tom Stokes (3.00) in a new-look line-up. Danish pair Nicklas Porsing and Michael Palm Toft have been axed.
Rathbone has decided to act after a worryingly slump in form which has seen Panthers suffer heavy home and away defeats in the past fortnight.
The team changes are set to take effect for a home showdown against Sheffield on Sunday (5pm) – providing the sport’s governing body, the British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) - give it the thumbs-up.
Rathbone said: “It doesn’t get any better than Craig in the Premier League. He has been the best rider at this level in recent years and it is a huge boost that he has agreed to join us.
“It is also a huge statement of our intent to be up there challenging for the title.
“I’m happy to give Tom his chance at reserve. He is our number eight and already part of the club, and he deserves a shot at riding in the Premier League.
“I’ve never been a man to make knee-jerk reactions, but I felt this was a time in which we had to act as we’ve been carrying too many riders this season.
“I’m in this sport to be successful and our paying supporters also want to see a winning team.
“Hopefully the changes we’re making, providing they get the all clear from the BSPA, will make that happen.”
Porsing’s stay at Panthers has lasted just nine competitive meetings after being snapped up in the winter from Elite League side King’s Lynn whereas Palm Toft has been a popular figure since arriving at the start of last season.
Palm Toft has agreed to make a farewell appearance when Panthers go to Plymouth on Friday (May 6) ahead of his exit. Porsing had been ruled out of that trip due to a knee problem.
Rathbone added: “It is never nice to have to make sacrifices, but that is the way the sport works.
“Given more time Nicklas could have become a star performer in this league, but I don’t feel we have that time on our side now.
“It is a big disappointment to have to let Michael go. He is a great bloke and we will do everything we can to get him fixed up somewhere else.
“The fact he is still willing to ride for us at Plymouth on Friday night is a measure of his class.”