SPEEDWAY champions Swindon Robins will be defending their title without at least one of their top strike partnership – after rule changes at the sport's AGM, writes Phil Rice.

In 2018, clubs can use only one rider with an average of eight points or more which means losing new world champion Jason Doyle or talented racer Nick Morris.

Team boss Alun Rossiter, who has also been confirmed as England team manager for 2018, wants to hold talks with star men Doyle and Morris before pressing ahead with his plans for next season.

Another key change approved at the British Speedway Promoters’ Association meeting in Tenerife over the weekend was that the top two leagues will have set race days in a bid to cut out fixture clashes and allow greater rider availability.

Premiership teams will race only on Mondays and Wednesdays. The second tier Championship will stage meetings on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

But Swindon have already been allowed special dispensation to opt out and to race on a number of protected Thursdays (their traditional race night) due to greyhound racing taking place at the Abbey Stadium on Wednesdays.

The Robins are expected to race at home on every Bank Holiday Monday. But apart from televised Monday meetings – although no TV deal is yet in place for next season– it is thought that Swindon will continue to race predominately as a Thursday track.

The switch finally should ensure that riders doubling up in both leagues will face no fixture clashes, a situation which blighted many meetings in 2017.

Racing on a Thursday, however, will compromise Rossiter's team building as he would not want to sign a Championship rider with Thursday commitments.

Promoters have also listened to fans’ feedback and have scrapped the tactical ride for double points. They have rolled back the years by bringing in the traditional tactical substitute rule when a team is six points or more behind.

While not revealed yet, there are expected to be new starting rules. Anything that stops the sort of starting problems seem in some matches at Blunsdon in 2017 must be encouraged.

Rossiter said: “It’s unfortunate and I’m not going to stand here and say everything at the AGM was rosy because it wasn’t.

“I’m slightly disappointed we couldn’t have Monday and Thursday as set race nights. We now run the risk of clashing with Denmark on a Wednesday, but again I go with the democracy.”

Which of Doyle or Morris will stay? Doyle with the monkey off his back now he’s world champion may be a more relaxed personality but an expensive one. Meanwhile Morris had a really good 2017 but he has been with the side for six years and perhaps he’s best served by a move away.

It is expected that Tobiasz Musielak and David Bellego will both be back for the Robins.