Plymouth Devils to be saved by 11th-hour lifeline
CITY speedway club Plymouth Devils are set to be saved by an 11th-hour lifeline.
A consortium which intends to take over the Premier League team say they are ready to compete next season.
Members of the consortium have hammered out a deal with the governors of St Boniface College, who are responsible for the land on which their track sits.
The new deal, essentially agreed at a crunch meeting between the two parties earlier in the week, is believed to give the consortium a two-year lease at the St Boniface Arena.
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The consortium had not been happy with a suggested one-year lease, as they considered it would not give them time to recoup their investment and get the club running properly.
Devils had been within a few hours of going under, with the sport's ruling body, the British Speedway Promoters' Association, needing to know yesterday whether the club would be running in 2013.
The association had originally set the declaration deadline the week before, but had granted the Devils a week's grace.
Consortium member Godfrey Spargo said last night in a statement: "We have received an email from St Boniface College business manager Kerri Snell, indicating a letter is currently in preparation and should be emailed at close of school business, offering the consortium an agreement to continue to run Premier League speedway at St Boniface Arena in 2013.
"While the final details still have to be confirmed, we believe the offer will be based on discussions held at St Boniface College on Tuesday.
"At this time we would like to thank everyone at St Boniface College for their help in making the dream return to life and hope this is the beginning of a long relationship between us.
"We must also thank the British Speedway Promoters' Association, who delayed our declaration deadline in order that we could continue to consult with St Boniface College on the lease, and in particular BSPA chairman Alex Harkess who has been working very hard in the background to help ensure a positive outcome."
The consortium, which includes former Devils skipper Seemond Stephens, have persuaded ex-commercial manager Brian Cave to return to the St Boniface Arena.
Last year's team manager Lee Trigger, who had made it clear he would go back to the Devils if the consortium took over, will also be returning.
Spargo added: "We must not forget the work put in over the past seven years by (Devils chairman and promoter) Mike Bowden and thank him for his patience over the past few months.
"Without his enthusiasm the sport would never have returned to Plymouth."
BSPA chairman Alex Harkess said: "I think everybody's pleased things seemed to have worked out in Plymouth.
"The club got very close to going under, but hopefully things will settle down and they will go from strength to strength."
Harkess added: "I think everyone should thank Mike Bowden. I know he's had a hard year and took a lot of criticism, but he built the club up from nothing. There wouldn't be speedway in Plymouth but for him."