Leicester Speedway will be under new management next season following the announcement prior to Christmas that the club had been saved from possible closure. Club owner David Hemsley has relinquished control of the Lions to allow David Darcy to take over the responsibility of running the business.
Darcy has held the position of Co-promoter for the past four years and now replaces Hemsley as the senior person at Beaumont Park. “I’m pleased that I am still involved and am looking forward to the challenge of bringing success to Leicester. I am conscious that it has been many weeks of worry and uncertainty for our fans concerning the future of the Lions and I would like to place on record my gratitude to Keith Chapman who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to save the club and he is pleased to continue giving his advice and support” said David Darcy.
David Hemsley said: “I have always stated publicly that at the point where the right person came along who had the interest of the club at heart and a passion to take Leicester forward then I would stand aside to ensure that the club can grow and develop in the future. I believe that the new management team has those values and therefore I am content in the knowledge that the club is in good hands and a new chapter is about to begin in the life of Leicester Speedway.
The highest priority now for the club is to assemble a team. “We will soon be announcing who will be representing Leicester next season as we are now opening contract discussions with riders who we believe will help us turn the club around. If we are able to secure their signatures then I am sure that we will have a competitive team that will do justice to Leicester Speedway” added Darcy.
Whilst the club have not revealed which riders they are talking to it is certain that there will be changes to the team as three of last season’s riders have already secured places elsewhere.
We are saddened to learn that Lionel Benson has passed away in his native Australia last Thursday at the age of ninety-one. Lionel arrived at Blackbird Road from his home in Sydney, New South Wales at the start of the 1950 season to ride for the Hunters but it was two months into the campaign before he received a chance to ride for the team. When that came Benson never looked back and the Hunters late challenge for the Division 3 title can be attributed to the Australian’s scoring record, which finished with him top of Leicester’s match averages.
Lionel’s ascendancy continued in 1951 and it was only the arrival of Len Williams from Sheffield that prevented him from retaining his number one jersey at the club. Nevertheless Lionel scored over 400 points in all competitions and he was selected to ride for the Overseas’ team against Great Britain in an international series.
Another impressive season followed in 1952 which was recognised by the Australian Test Match Select Committee who picked Benson for three of the meetings against England but with the world at his feet, Benson returned back home and to the disappointment of many Hunters fans he never again returned to Britain to resume his blossoming career.
Leicester’s final Elite League match of the season which was scheduled to take place on Saturday with the visit of the King’s Lynn Stars to Beaumont Park has been cancelled.
The Lions Co-promoter David Darcy said: “It is no secret that the club is in financial difficulty and to stage the meeting will incur additional costs which will only add to the present situation we find ourselves in. After careful consideration of the facts the only sensible option was to cancel the meeting much to our regret. The decision has not been taken lightly and on behalf of the management team I offer our sincere apologies to our fans, sponsors, business partners, riders and staff. Our fans have supported the team brilliantly throughout the season and I am sure that the news will be a huge disappointment to them as much as it is to everyone within the club.”
The team’s last home appearance took place on August Bank Holiday Monday when Leicester completed a win over last season’s Elite League Champions, the Poole Pirates and the final score-line of 52-38 was their highest winning margin.
The fixture has twice been postponed due to rain which affected track conditions and a third attempt was scheduled to take place two weeks ago only to be cancelled due to the unavailability of several of the Lions team.
“I am mindful that fans may still have in their possession admission tickets from the original date when the meeting was first postponed and if this is the case then King’s Lynn fans should write to their club enclosing their ticket for a refund which has been agreed with the Stars Promoter Keith Chapman. Lions fans should retain their re-admission tickets which can be exchanged for a meeting next season at Leicester” added Darcy.
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