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Nicki Pedersen says he could still play a part in Sheffield’s 2021 SGB Premiership campaign, even if he can't race the whole season.

12 / 11 / 2020, 10:01

Triple world champion Nicki Pedersen says he could still play a part in Sheffield’s 2021 SGB Premiership campaign, even if Polish rules prevent him from racing the whole season.

In a rule change by Polish authorities for next year, PGE Ekstraliga riders can only compete in one other national league, while First and Second Division stars can compete in two other leagues.

With Pedersen set to compete for Grudziadz and admitting he’s keen to race in the Danish Speedway League as it re-launches in 2021 following the coronavirus pandemic, the Dane’s deal with Sheffield looks set to be the casualty and he would also be unable to ride in Sweden.

Maybe I will be able to do the play-offs for Sheffield. I am more than happy to do that and the same with the Swedish league. I am always open-minded for anything.

Nicki Pedersen

Pedersen won’t be the only top star facing tough decisions as the likes of his Sheffield team mate Jack Holder, Robert Lambert, Dan Bewley and Jaimon Lidsey could all have to choose between deals in Britain and Sweden.

If Pedersen isn’t able to start 2021 in Tigers’ colours, he admits he could still finish the year at Owlerton. But he admits he must confirm this would be possible when he holds talks with Grudziadz today.

He said: “I would have loved to come back to Sheffield, and there are always means and ways. I feel I still have something left to offer British speedway. I feel I could give them some energy. We will need to see what happens in the future. Never say never; I might come back one day.

“Let’s say Grudziadz don’t make the play-offs. Maybe I will be able to do the play-offs for Sheffield. I am more than happy to do that and the same with the Swedish league. I am always open-minded for anything.”

He added: “I will ask Grudziadz that if we don’t make the Ekstraliga play-offs, could I race in the British or Swedish play-offs?

“I need to have things clear. I don’t know what the rules are going to be – whether you’re allowed or not. Maybe the clubs don’t know themselves. But I have a meeting today. We need to clarify what we can do and what we can’t.”

Pedersen says he hasn’t held talks with the Tigers about 2021 yet. He said: “I haven’t had any negotiations about 2021 yet.

“When everything got closed down, they said ‘if no racing happens in 2020, are you open for 2021?’ I said ‘I am always open.’ I would love to come back. All my gear and equipment is still over there. But since the new Polish rules came in, nobody knows what’s going to happen.”

Pedersen admits he couldn’t pull out of his home league for next year. He said: “There’s no doubt that I cannot miss the Danish league in 2021 because of what happened this year.”

He added: “It’s probably going to be Denmark because I have sponsors there and Holsted has been my club for so many years – more than 17 years.

“I would love to race in Sheffield and also in Sweden. But the way it looks at the moment, unless anything changes, it’s going to be Poland and Denmark.”

Polish bosses have suggested their rule changes will create opportunities for new stars to emerge in other leagues, although some critics have suggested the changes are purely to guarantee the availability of riders for Polish fixtures and reduce the likelihood of their stars suffering injuries in foreign leagues. Pedersen feels younger riders will suffer most from the changes as it will limit their opportunities to gain experience across the continent.

He said: “For me personally, I am 43 years old. It doesn’t matter if I just do the Danish league and Polish league.

“I’m not getting any younger. I am still feeling young and enjoying my life. I still want it badly, so I could still do three or four leagues. But racing in two countries is probably going to extend my league career by three or four years if I want it to.

“If I am angry with this situation, it’s because of the young guys. I remember when I used to do four or five leagues. I think it’s a bit of a shame the young guys who are 23, 24 or 25 can’t do it. They’re at an age when I used to travel and get a lot of experience.

“The young guys need to do the travelling to get the experience of three or four leagues, which they can’t at the moment. That’s disappointing.

“I am kind of lucky I was around in a different decade when I could choose whatever I wanted to do, and what I felt I was capable of doing. Nowadays, you are forced to do this or that. I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think each rider should choose what they think they are capable of doing.

“Racing in three or four leagues put me in the situation I’m in today. I’m not worried about me. I will survive anyhow. I have done my bit; I’m just glad I’m not 23 anymore.

“But I am shouting about this because I love the sport and my heart is still in the sport. There are other riders below me and they need to do three or four leagues to develop themselves and be better.”

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ZENON PLECH 1953-2020

Polish great Zenon Plech has passed away at the age of 67.

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