NEWS: Elite League 2016 applications now open whilst Combination League is dropped

Applications for clubs to enter the 2016 Elite League are now open. Clubs received an email from Paul West yesterday to club secretaries with an application form for any clubs wishing to enter the highest tier of racing in the UK.

It also came with official news that the Elite League Combination fixture has been dropped for 2016, on account of it no longer serving its initial purpose. In the email, British Cycling released a statement which said;

The British Cycling Cycle Speedway Commission is aware that the Combination League as run in tandem with the Elite League has failed to serve its original purpose for many seasons. In some instances clubs have transferred riders from weaker clubs in specifically to ride in this competition whilst in other cases away teams in particular have always struggled to bring with them sufficient riders to field anything like a fresh set of riders to compete.

For 2016 this competition shall not be run. In its place host clubs have the opportunity to organise more meaningful competition in the time available. This might be a match within their Regional League, a Grand Prix style competition aimed at youth riders or some other worthwhile initiative. During 2016 the BC CS Commission will consider other options to on a more structured basis as part of the overall development plan for the sport.

The remainder structure and membership requirements for membership of the 2016 Elite league will remain as 2015. Applications to join this league will close on Thursday 22nd October

Last weekend saw Newport, Poole, Sheffield and Horspath all give away significant penalty points by tracking riders who rode in the first fixture. Newport’s combination match was over before it even began, giving away 64 points to Ipswich.

The original purpose of the combination league was for it to be competitive and feature racing of at least a good regional level, with a full line up of extra riders who are knocking on the door of the first team. In the past few seasons the standards have dropped to a below par level of competition in most cases. In some occurrences during the 2015 campaign, under 13 riders were competing against first team Elite League riders, leaving nothing “elite” about the second team fixture, prompting a “back to the drawing board” stance from the commission.

The move will divide opinion with many feeling it doesn’t do any harm and it should stay until something new is drawn up. The commission have indicated in the statement that they want clubs to seize the initiative and use the time to put something more meaningful on themselves.

The decision signals that the commission are willing to shake things up when it comes to reorganising the sport and a more meaningful official competition, aimed at riders just below elite standard, is likely to take its place at some point in the near future.