SPEEDWAY LATEST: Completing Panthers line-up could be a lengthy process

Panthers have been linked with Scott Nicholls.
Panthers have been linked with Scott Nicholls.
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Team manager Carl Johnson has admitted that Peterborough Panthers may have to wait until the end of January to complete their 2018 team.

The city club have so far named five members of their side for the new SGB Championship campaign, but filling the final two spots look set to be a lengthy process with Panthers understood to be waiting on a possible British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) rule change in the new year.

The city club have been widely linked with a swoop for seven-time British champion Scott Nicholls, but he is not currently eligible to race in the second tier of the sport due to a ruling introduced at the sport’s annual meeting in November - at which Panthers were not represented.

It means any riders who boast an SGB Premiership average in excess of six points, and don’t possess a valid SGB Championship average, are now prohibited from riding in the lower league. That rule has since been challenged by a number of clubs and riders who are affected.

Johnson declined to reveal the club’s targets to complete their line-up, but did tell the Peterborough Telegraph: “We’re working on completing the team, but as of yet the remaining two riders are not finalised.

“We’re waiting on a possible change that we’re told won’t happen until late January. I’m sure other clubs are in the same position as ourselves.

“We’re not going name the riders we are keen on bringing in at this stage, but we do have a Plan A and a Plan B in place.

“We’re trying to put together the best team we possibly can and we may well have to hang on a while to do that.”

Ulrich Ostergaard and Simon Lambert, who helped the club to a Fours and KO Cup double last term, have been joined by Michael Palm Toft, Nike Lunna and Emil Grondal in a new-look 2018 outfit.

They have 13.76 points available for their remaining two riders who are likely to be a number one and a reserve.

Panthers have announced the return of lifelong fan Neil Watson as co-promoter of the club. Watson replaces the long-serving Trevor Swales, who retired at the end of last season.

Watson has twice been part of Mick Horton regimes at Panthers in the past. His most recent role has been at Coventry Bees with the same man.

“I’m delighted to be joining the management team for my third shift as a Panthers promoter,” said Watson.

“I have been a Panthers supporter throughout the club’s history stretching back to 1970. Hopefully that long association with the club – and speedway in general – will stand me in good stead for the role.

“I’m grateful to Mick for his trust in me over many years and leave Coventry with sadness, but I’m also excited about the new challenge.”