It was all change at Berwick this week as the Bandits were forced to rethink their team-building plans following a visa row.
Luke Crang was drafted in as a replacement for Australian Jake Allen after it became clear the Shielfield Park outfit would not be able to include him in their starting line-up.
The Bandits had previously announced that they had handed UK rookie Allen a team place for 2015.
But behind the scenes there was a problem over his assessed starting average. The club had hoped to include him on five points, but the sport’s governing body, the BSPA, indicated that it was likely to be seven, and under those circumstances the Borderers would have been over the 42.5 team limit.
Then, last Wednesday, following a meeting between a number of clubs and the UK visa and immigration authorities, it was announced that all non EU riders (Australian and American) who did not hold a British passport or a long stay visa would have their visas revoked.
This left the Bandits with no option but make the switch, with 23 year-old former motocross rider Crang being recruited to fill one of the reserve berths at the expense of Allen.
Crang comes from Darlington, and will ride on loan from Coventry where he will also ride as number 1 and captain the Coventry Storm National League side.
Last year he had a spell in the Premier League with Redcar until he was ruled out with a shoulder injury.
Berwick promoter John Anderson said “ Luke has been riding motorcycles since he was six years old but it was only in 2013 he took up speedway in the National League. He likes bigger tracks but in fairness until his injury he was also starting to pick up decent points at Redcar. He will be yet another moto-crosser coming into speedway, joining the likes of Richard Lawson, Craig Cook and the Worrall twins.
“He is back to full fitness, training in the gym, doing lots of cycling and heading across to Cumbria to do speedway practice on Steve Lawson’s little purpose-built track.”
Crang’s signing leaves Berwick with 5.66 points to play with to fill their one remaining team berth and Anderson says they are close to making an announcement which could be ‘a bit of a surprise.”
So far Bandits have signed Ben Barker, Claus Vissing, Kevin Doolan (who is unaffected by the visa row), Thomas Jorgensen, Alex Edberg and Crang.
The visa row, which affects a number of riders, including former world champion Chris Holder at Poole in the Elite League, is seen as a major set-back within the sport.
A statement from the BSPA said: “There are administrative issues which all parties are keen to resolve before the start of the 2015 British Speedway season.
“The UKVI have offered to hold an operational workshop for club officials to assist them in this complex process.
“In the meantime, the BSPA ) and UKVI remain committed to work towards a satisfactory outcome.”