New Peterborough Panthers owner defends his control of three of the seven Premiership clubs

New Panthers owner Keith 'Buster' Chapman.
New Panthers owner Keith 'Buster' Chapman.
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New Peterborough Panthers owner Keith ‘Buster’ Chapman insists he bought the club to help a ‘wonderful sport’.

The British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) chief completed a purchase of the city club earlier this week at the sport’s annual meeting.

Chapman’s takeover will see Panthers race in the SGB Premiership for the first time since 2013 and it means he now owns three of the seven clubs competing in the top flight.

Chapman is the long-time boss of King’s Lynn Stars and also completed a deal to buy Ipswich Witches, who like Panthers climb into the top tier from the SGB Championship, this week.

But he insists his ownership of all three clubs is not something which should be knocked.

Chapman said: “This is not about Keith Chapman, it’s about the sport in general and what I believe in . . . that this is a wonderful sport.

“I’ve invested a lot of money and time into making this happen because we had to maintain a three league structure in British Speedway.

“One big league would never work, we explored that possibility but reached the conclusion we have to have three leagues.

“I’ve never really liked Ipswich in the past because I’m a King’s Lynn man and there’s always been rivalry with Peterborough too, but they will both be good for the Premiership.

“I knew there were question marks over Somerset and Leicester and it turned out they dropped down a division but we have two really good, solid clubs with great tradition and history stepping up.

“I’m aware of criticism, but don’t knock me for doing what I believe is right for the sport I believe in.

“I think the Premiership we had last season was fabulous. Look how competitive it was. There are lots of positives in the sport.”

The man who sold Panthers to Chapman – Ged Rathbone – will now remain at the club as promoter. Neil Watson continues as co-promoter but team boss Carl Johnson will not be part of the new regime.

It’s a similar story at Ipswich where Chris Louis will still run the Suffolk club on a day-to-day basis.

Both clubs have committed to being in the Premiership for three years where they will join reigning champions Poole, Belle Vue, Swindon and Wolverhampton in a seven-club competition.

Chapman added: “Everything stays the same at Ipswich and Peterborough with their management continuing to run the clubs.

“I want the Premiership to be stable and I’d like to think the seven clubs we have will be at this level for the next three years at least, possibly with the addition of one more to take us up to eight.

“I just want to make the point this is not about me – it’s about British Speedway.

“I’ve done what I feel is right and I really don’t see how anyone can knock me for that.

“I’m passionate about the work we are doing and I’m driven by a desire to see British Speedway progress which I believe it will.”