Kings move up into Championship division
Kings move up into Championship division

It’s seventh heaven for Kent Speedway club with the announcement that the Central Park Stadium-based side are to move up into the Speedway GB Championship [SGBC] division (the sport’s second division) for a first ever time.  

The TouchTec-sponsored Kings contested the previous seven seasons in the third tier National League [NL] and having reached the Play Offs in each of the past three seasons and also annexing both the National Trophy & the National Pairs’ titles in 2019, it was a logical step and part of the ‘20-20’ vision for the ambitious club to make the move up.

And the Speedway authorities agreed, awarding the club co-promoted by Speedway veteran Len Silver a place in a new larger and revamped SGBC league for next season.

The Championship sees teams from across the UK including three from Scotland and famous south-coast club Poole Pirates (also moving in the SGBC for 2020), competing through a partially regionalised format culminating in a Play Off series involving the top six.

The teams in the SGBC include four sides Kent have faced previously in the NL: Birmingham & rivals from just over the Sussex border, Eastbourne (who both made the move up themselves a year ago) plus Scunthorpe and Leicester who have entered second teams at third tier level in Kent’s time; plus tracks which will become first ever destinations for Chris Hunt’s men and new visitors to Central Park: the aforementioned Poole, Somerset, Newcastle, Redcar (based in Middlesbrough) and further north still: Berwick, Edinburgh & Glasgow.

The BSPA Conference agreeing Kent’s elevation also set the parameters for the 2020 Championship campaign.  There will be two regionalised sections with the TouchTec Kings joining Birmingham Brummies, Leicester Lions, Eastbourne Eagles, Poole Pirates and Somerset Rebels in the Southern section; with Scunthorpe Scorpions and the two sides from the north-east, Redcar Bears & Newcastle Diamonds and the three clubs from the north of the border, Berwick Bandits, Glasgow Tigers & Edinburgh Monarchs comprising the Northern section.

Clubs will race opponents from their own section twice at home and twice away and opponents from the other section once at home and once away. 

There will be a team-building points limit of 41.00.

In addition to the League itself there is expected to be announced shortly details of the Knock-Out Cup and Championship Shield competitions for 2020.

New BSPA Chairman, Scunthorpe promoter Rob Godfrey commented,“We have plenty to look forward to, we have a fantastic new TV deal with Eurosport on a massive platform, and it’s great to have brought in real commercial expertise via outside agencies to work on this and other issues.“British Speedway has a thriving Youth scene, which is now paying dividends with 26 riders who have graduated from that scene racing in the Championship last season, and there’s more to come in 2020, so there are plenty of good things happening.”

In terms of the division the Kings are moving up from having had a brilliant seven years and getting so well established in the sport, the NL will have their AGM on November 26th.  – with Len Silver stating Kent’s intention of, if possible, doing what Leicester & Belle Vue did last term in entering a ‘second side’ in the NL also.

Of the challenges ahead Silver said,“It is fantastic news for all involved with the club  that we are moving up into the higher league.  Chris [Hunt] and I have been working hard to put a Championship level team together. As newcomers to the division it is far from easy, especially when we are ideally trying to avoid riders from Europe who commute every week.  We want riders who identify with Kent and are happy to be part of our family.  It will take both of us a little while to settle into the ways of the Championship and to get to know the talent that is there.  Our principal aim is to entertain our superb body of loyal fans, attract still more people to follow Kent Speedway and to build for the future.”

Team boss Chris Hunt looking forward to his first campaign managing in the second tier stated.”It’s onwards and upwards for Kent Speedway.  There’s an enormous amount to look forward to.”