Furious Panthers launch court proceedings

PETERBOROUGH Panthers will not be riding in the Elite League in 2011.

PETERBOROUGH Panthers will not be riding in the Elite League in 2011.

But the furious Alwalton-based side are set to launch court proceedings against the British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) over their exclusion from the League.

Coventry, also excluded, are set to do the same.

The saga has rumbled on for almost two months of a turbulent winter since representatives of the two clubs walked out of the sport’s annual meeting over proposed rule changes which they believe were implemented purely to disadvantage Panthers and Coventry

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A statement issued on behalf of both clubs read: “It is with great regret that Coventry Bees and Peterborough Panthers have to announce that after an EGM at BSPA headquarters on January 12, the management of both clubs and the members of the BSPA have been unable to reach agreement in relation to the dispute arising from the 2010 AGM.

“As a result both Coventry and Peterborough have no alternative but to protect their position by issuing court proceedings against the BSPA as soon as possible, which is likely to include an application for an injunction to address issues arising from the 2010 AGM.

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“Both clubs wish to record their complete disappointment at the failure of the members of the BSPA to adopt the recommendations of Chairman Alex Harkess and Operations Manager Angela Price which had been agreed with Peterborough and Coventry in a meeting in December 2010.

“Due to the confidential nature of that meeting we are unable to release details of what was agreed to be recommended to the members but we do believe that it was not only for the benefit of Coventry and Peterborough, but for the benefit for the sport of speedway as a whole.

“Both clubs are disappointed that such agreed recommendations were not adopted at the EGM despite the apparent support of Mr Harkess and Ms Price. We firmly are of the view that it was in the interest of speedway as a sport and for the fans to see those proposed changes take place.

“The dispute initially arose at the 2010 AGM as a result of what Coventry and Peterborough perceive as prejudicial, discriminatory and illegal rule changes which in Coventry and Peterborough’s view had the express intention of disadvantaging Coventry and Peterborough.

“In addition the manner in which speedway is managed and run is, we believe, against both UK and EU competition law and the rejection by the BSPA members of the agreement reached in December 2010 has left both clubs with no option but to commence proceedings.

“In our view major surgery is required to cure speedway’s ills and we have consistently appealed for transparent democracy and a level playing field for all clubs together with an independent body to supervise and approve rule changes to ensure strict neutrality and fairness.

“The loss of clubs of the stature of Coventry and Peterborough to British speedway will be a huge body blow and one which the BSPA do not seem to understand could be the beginning of the end of speedway in this country as we know it.

“It is ironic that the loss of two of the best run and most financially secure clubs appears to be acceptable to the BSPA whilst they continue to actively support a number of Elite League clubs who we believe still owe creditors tens of thousands of pounds from last season.

“We are very sorry that efforts made to date have failed to resolve issues for all concerned. We shall at every possible juncture ensure we keep our fans updated in line with our obligations to the Court.”

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