Van Straaten: We want to see more teams in the league

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Wolverhampton Speedway promoter Chris Van Straaten says he wants more competition in next year’s SGB Premiership following their “tremendous” season. 

Wolves Speedway back in action. (Credit: Chris Van Straaten)

The league saw several changes to its line-up ahead of the 2021 campaign, with previous champions Swindon Robins and Poole Pirates leaving the league. Sheffield Tigers were the only new club, meaning Wolves were left to battle it out in a six-team division.

Wolves secured back-to-back play-off spots with a second place finish this season, narrowly missing out to Peterborough Panthers with a semi-final defeat.

Van Straaten added he wants the size of the division to increase, with his team looking to win the Premiership next year.

He said: “We want to see more teams in the league. It worked ideally this year because we couldn’t start until the 17th May – that’s the day we were given the green light to operate with partial crowds. Normally we look at a speedway season starting six or seven weeks earlier than that so we need to have another team in our league.

“I think the league was very well balanced and I think that’s the secret of any competition, it’s the equilibrium and I think this year we had that. We need to continue with that so that when the tapes go up, every single supporter at every team thinks they can win the league.”

Wolves finished on 52 points in the regular season, just one point behind table-toppers Peterborough. The Wolves promoter believes having the strongest home record in the competition was a major factor, winning nine out of ten meetings at Monmore Green.

Van Straaten added: “I think the fact that we had a tremendous record if we look at how many meetings we actually lost and we hadn’t got an out-and-out star so I think any one of our riders could finish top of the pile and I think that’s good for team spirit.”

The West Midlands-based club was well-balanced with five riders averaging more than a 7.0 per meeting, with Sam Masters leading the charts with 8.94. 

However, it was rising star Leon Flint who was the surprise package for Peter Adams’ side. The teenager came into the side following the mid-season retirement of Tom Bacon and impressed fans as the season progressed, ending the year with a respectable 3.85 average.

Chris Van Straaten spoke highly of the youngster and his debut campaign. 

He added:  “Leon Flint who we put in the team a few weeks after the start of the season – he’s relentless. He wants to learn and he’s listening and he is improving dramatically and that’s good to see because we need all these British youngsters coming through. 

“We must develop and encourage the British youngsters, that’s what we must concentrate on.”

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