Isle of Wight speedway vote to suspend licence

Isle of Wight speedway officials have voted to suspend their 2014 membership.

After 16 years of competitive racing at the Smallbrook track there will no Islanders speedway team.

The Islanders, who lose several thousand pounds during the summer race season, have also been forced to find £30,000 to install air-safety fencing.

"It was tough but it was a democratic and overwhelming vote not to continue," co-promoter and team manager Kevin Shepherd told BBC Radio Solent.

The Islanders compete in the third tier of speedway - the National League - but a meeting of shareholders on Tuesday saw them take the decision to suspend their 2014 licence for a year.

The verdict means it is highly unlikely that the Islanders will enter the National League this year, although the club will not officially register their decision until the end-of-January deadline.

"It was not financially viable and the decision was made to sit the year out," added Shepherd.

"When the club looks at it's next AGM in October, we will make a decision as to whether to enter next year.

"Unless somebody puts the money in to keep speedway going it's a no-brainer."

Elite League teams already have the inflatable barriers and some Premier and National league clubs have also installed them voluntarily.

Under the new Federation Internationale de l'Automobile regulations, clubs must install the fencing at each bend for the start of next season as speedway looks to prevent future tragedies.

In May 2012, British speedway star Lee Richardson died when he crashed into a wooden fence in Poland.

The Islanders enjoyed a successful 2013 campaign, winning the National Trophy and reaching the National League play-offs and the final of the National League Knockout Cup.

Shepherd said he was still hopeful they will be able to return in 2015.

"The air fence is not the stumbling block, the money can be raised for that," he said,

"I hope this is not the end but the decision is out of my hands. If the club can clear it's debt then we can look at coming back."