Edinburgh Monarchs will defend their Premier League speedway championship crown under a revamped knockout play-off campaign in 2015, following a change in the rules voted through by promoters at their annual AGM at the weekend.
The top six teams will still contest the play-offs, but no longer under a mini-league system. Instead, the two sides who finish first and second in the table at the end of the regular season will progress directly to the semi-finals and will be joined by the winners of two quarter-finals which will see third race against sixth and fourth versus fifth.
In another change, three points will be now awarded for a home win, and the use of a tactical ride will be restricted to one only for a team ten points in arrears.
But tactical rides, currently banned in the Knockout Cup, has been extended to cover all aggregate events in the Premier League.
The two ‘extra’ home and away meetings, introduced to appease those sides who failed to reach the play-offs, have been dropped, meaning a 22 or 24 match programme for all sides depending on whether Peterborough Panthers come to the tapes. The BSPA have given them 14 days to decide.
The 42.50 points limit for all sides in the Premier League remains in place.
Monarchs’ boss Alex Harkess continues as BSPA chairman for the last of his six-year stint in the role. And, in a major move, next year’s conference will be brought forward by at least a month to take place within the racing season.
Vice chairman Chris Van Straaten said: “This is a huge step forward and both the Premier and Elite Leagues agreed this was the way to go. We need to do our business earlier. This will now enable all clubs to hold discussions with their riders’ regarding the following season prior to the end of the existing campaign. Currently we are the last nation to talk to our riders.”
In the first-round draw for the KO Cup, which will be sponsored by Travel Plus Tours next season, Monarchs, the holders, face Sheffield Tigers.
Monarchs will now begin their team-building plans, with Aussie trio Sam Masters, Justin Sedgmen, and Max Fricke virtually certain to return to Armadale come the Spring.