ELITE League champions Poole Pirates will fly the flag for British speedway at a one-off European club championship in Poland next month.
The Daily Echo can exclusively reveal that Pirates will do battle with the 2013 title winners from the other three major domestic leagues - Poland, Sweden and Denmark - in a long-awaited showdown at Zielona Gora, the home of the Polish champions.
Danish standard-bearers Esbjerg and Swedish champions Piraterna make up the quartet for the event on August 31, which will see one rider from each club contest each heat from their respective four-man teams.
Riders who represent more than one competitor will race for the team from their country of birth first, with priority then given to the club for which they have the longest service, subject to work permit regulations.
Excited Poole promoter Matt Ford, a long-time advocate of an official European championship, told the Daily Echo: “This is tremendous news and it will be the biggest meeting in our club's history.
“While we have won so much domestically, this is the equivalent of the Champions League in football and I'm sure anyone would relish the prospect of being crowned European champions.
“To us and anybody else taking part, this will be the ultimate one to win, as hard as it will be against a Zielona Gora side which so rarely gets beaten on their home track.
“Of course, I hope we will be fighting for the Elite League title right to the bitter end but this trophy, for me, is the pinnacle of team events in speedway and it is a massive leap forward for the sport across the continent.
“Television companies will undoubtedly have a keen interest in this and it opens up so many revenue streams and opportunities to take club speedway to a much higher level.
“Alex Harkess (chairman of the British Speedway Promoters' Association) has worked tirelessly on this over the past two years. Twice we have been so close to it happening and at long last it looks like we have got there.”
Ford revealed that club captain and GP star Darcy Ward would join Polish duo Shamek Pawlicki and Maciej Janowski in the Poole side with the fourth and final piece of the jigsaw soon to be confirmed.
“We are awaiting confirmation from the FIM that the team we have put forward will be acceptable,” added Ford.
“There are certain things to be taken into consideration such as work permits, form and injury. There will also be certain riders who cannot race against us due to legalities.”
Organisers hopeful that many will take the opportunity of doubling up with a trip to the Grand Prix in Gorzow, which takes place 24 hours earlier.
- The record of Poole's two home victories over the now-defunct Birmingham Brummies has been expunged. The Perry Barr club have been removed from the Elite League standings.