King’s Lynn Young Stars have taken the decision to withdraw from the Travel Plus National League with immediate effect.
The Young Stars have seen their side decimated in the early stages of the season, especially in the upper order, and are now unable to compete further.
They suffered a major blow on the eve of the campaign with winter signing Kyle Hughes electing not to take his place in the team, and the problems increased following Danny Phillips’s horror crash at Mildenhall on May 7.
Now Young Stars No.1 Josh Bailey, who suffered a badly broken collarbone last August, has informed the club of his decision to take time out of the sport after a confidence-sapping run.
And with a lack of available options for replacements, despite numerous enquiries, the club have reluctantly come to the conclusion that they cannot see out the season in the third tier.
Co-promoter Dale Allitt said: “It was an incredibly difficult decision, although really things have been tough ever since Kyle retired before the season had even started.
“That put us on the back foot as we weren’t able to secure a new No.1 along with Josh, and although Scott (Campos) agreed to do the first month of the season we always knew it was going to be hard.
“We were confident of bringing in someone to fill the gap, albeit maybe not an eight or nine point rider, but then things got worse with Danny’s injury, which was terrible for him and for both ourselves and Newcastle.
“That dealt us a real hammer blow, especially as it was in Scott’s first meeting in charge, so then were basically down to Josh, rider replacement and a guest, and although massive efforts have been made to bring riders in, we weren’t able to do so.
“I won’t lie, some of it was down to finance, we were outbid on a couple of riders who were available, and a couple of others who we spoke to just didn’t want to ride for anything like what we were willing to pay.
“Then last night I spoke to Josh, who informed me of his decision to take time out. He broke his collarbone quite badly last August, and the plate only came out ten days before the season started.
“He crashed again on Wednesday in the Premiership match against Rye House and immediately felt a lot of pain. He’s been struggling with movement since he had the plate out, and at the moment he doesn’t feel able to commit to race properly.
“That left us as a Young Stars team with basically Ryan Kinsley as our No.1 rider at 3.62, and after much consideration we feel pulling out is the only option we can take.
“We’ve had to think not only about ourselves but also about the league as a whole, which maybe in recent times people haven’t done.
“We don’t want to go to other clubs with a massively weakened team. It’s not good business for them, people don’t turn up to watch, and they end up paying a great deal of money out.
“It also completely destroys what you’re trying to build at the club, because you can’t put 15-year-old kids out without leadership.
“It’s very disappointing that we’ve got to tell the riders we have left that there isn’t an opportunity to race National League at King’s Lynn any more this year, but we will endeavour to get those guys fixed up elsewhere and also continue to give them track time.
“We were trying to get through things, but after all the setbacks it’s just become impossible.”
The Young Stars have been continuous members of the National League since 2009, with the Adrian Flux Arena also staging racing at third-tier level with Boston in 2000-08.
They reached the Grand Final in 2013 with a side which now includes established top-flight riders Robert Lambert, Lewis Rose (both current Stars team members) and Lewis Kerr.
And Allitt admits it’s a sad day for the club to end their involvement at this level, at least for the time being.
He said: “It’s very disappointing and upsetting on a personal level. I’ve been involved in the National League through Boston and then King’s Lynn Young Stars for over a decade, and I never envisaged or wanted to see our team go in this manner.
“I’ve informed the Management Committee and it’s important to stress the decision was made in conjunction with the NL co-ordinator Peter Morrish, who has reluctantly accepted our resignation from the league, so our results will be expunged, although the riders who have new averages will keep those.
“Hopefully it’s not the end for King’s Lynn in the National League, but I do think the league will need to change. We are the first but I don’t think we will be the last, I think teams are on the edge at the moment for the reasons that we are.
“It’s ironic that I sat in the AGM last winter and voiced my concerns that there wouldn’t be enough riders around if problems were to occur, and there would be a club – albeit it looked like being a different one at the time – whose future would be threatened.
“However, decisions were made on a majority vote, which is what you have to go with, and I do think it’s fair to say that although the National League is still producing riders, it has changed dramatically over the last two or three years.
“Stand-alone clubs have a different agenda in most cases to clubs who are doing it as a second team, but only Belle Vue and ourselves were left amongst those this year with the loss of Rye House and Coventry.
“We’ve never hidden from the fact that we’ve had to run the National League team on a very strict budget, and it has lost money over the years, but we’ve done it to produce riders - which we’ve been very successful at.
“There is a long list of riders over the last five or six years who you can look at and say that’s been a success on its own, and in that time we’ve always tried to be competitive and got to play-off Finals and Cup Finals.
“The National League has probably become a victim of its own success over recent times, because of its evolution. I don’t want to put the blame on clubs coming in from the Elite League (now SGB Premiership), it’s not all because of that, part of it is natural progression with the league moving towards being a professional third division with the money that’s being paid.
“The stand-alone clubs want the highest standard, and I think it’s now more of a stand-alone league, so the guys there need to look at that and go forward.
“I just hope that after all the good that has been done over the years, the league doesn’t lose that ethic of bringing young kids through.
“That would be a shame for British Speedway, because we need our British riders now more than ever because of the changes around the world in speedway.”
Allitt has also stressed the club retains support for 19-year-old Bailey, who has been tipped for a bright future in the sport ever since making his first appearances during the 2013 season.
Bailey had started the current campaign with team places in all three leagues, as he also rode for Scunthorpe in the SGB Championship.
Allitt said: “Josh said himself that he massively under-estimated how he would come back from the injury, having not had one like that before, and by his own admission he’s found it difficult.
“He was hoping that his fitness would come, but because it hasn’t yet it makes it very hard for him and it’s not enjoyable at any level.
“Josh enjoys racing his bike, but he now can’t put the bike where he wants it to be, he’s not scoring points and he’s not beating people who he beat last year.
“I think it’s a brave decision from Josh. In some ways he’s got the world at his feet, but he’s very young and he will come again.
“It’s by no means the end for him, and he just needs a couple of months away to get himself fit. He’s been back to the hospital, and he’s been told the only way to do that is to take two steps back to go three steps forward in the long term.
“Those steps back mean rest, recuperation, and start again, because the muscle just isn’t there at the moment.”