LEICESTER team manager Stewart Dickson says reaching the play-offs is the clear aim as the countdown to the 2024 season gathers pace.

The Watling JCB Lions open the Sports Insure Premiership campaign with a visit from 2022 champions Belle Vue at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park on Thursday March 14, meaning there are just ten weeks before the action gets underway.

And after suffering the agony of missing out on a top four place on race points difference last year, despite being in that position for most of the campaign, Dickson wants his new-look side to go at least one step further.

He said: “What I said this time last year when Leicester moved up was that we wanted to be good for the Premiership, and to be able to go and put on a show wherever we go.

“We wanted a visit from Leicester to be a match people wanted to see, and I didn’t want it to be like the old days where folk might have said, ‘it’s Leicester, we’ll give that one a miss.’

“I think we’ve proved we can hack it in this league, and now the aim is to go at least one place higher in the table and to get into those play-offs.

“We still had some great meetings last season and took some good scalps, but ultimately we fell just short of the top four and we want to put that right.

“I think the team we’ve assembled for this year will be competitive wherever we go, but the most important thing is to stop dropping silly points at home. Those will be the words ringing in the ears of my riders.”

Seven clubs will once again contest the Premiership this year, but there have been changes due to the sad loss of Wolverhampton and Peterborough, who are unable to compete having lost the use of their established venues despite continuing to attract good crowds.

They have been replaced by Birmingham and Oxford, and whilst the Brummies have yet to declare the riders for the top end of their team, the Spires have recruited the likes of former World No.3 Maciej Janowski and ex-Lions skipper Chris Harris.

Dickson said: “We have two new teams coming into the league this season, so it will be different, but I must say I’m excited by the Premiership. It looks like being a great league with some very good riders.

“I think certainly in the case of Oxford, because we know they’ve completed their team, there’s no doubt they’ve built a competitive side and they will be good business as well.

“I am gutted that we’ve lost Wolves and Peterborough, because we don’t want to lose any tracks and geographically these were two of the closer ones.

“From a Leicester point of view it’s good that the two clubs coming in are quite close to home, and I’m sure we’ll get some travelling support and a decent atmosphere.

“We’re ready to go, and now we’re past New Year it’s a quick countdown. Leicester will embrace it this year just as we did last year, and this time we’ll try and do that little bit better.”

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Leicester Lions V Ipswich Witches
July 18, 2024 19.30

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