Published: 10:16, 18 November 2019
| Updated: 10:22, 18 November 2019
Kent Kings have been promoted into speedway's second tier for the first time in their history.
And they've immediately made their mark by signing speedway legend Scott Nicholls, a seven-time British champion.
Kent will be riding in an expanded Championship division next season, one level below the Elite League.
It's reward for the Sittingbourne-based club who made the National League play-offs in each of the past three seasons, also winning National Trophy and National Pairs titles.
They will take on clubs from all over the UK, including the famous Poole Pirates, and Scottish teams Berwick, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Kent co-promoter Len Silver said: “It is fantastic news for all involved with the clubthat we are moving up into the higher league.
"Chris (Hunt, manager) and I have been working hard to put a Championship level team together.
"As newcomers to the division it is far from easy, especially when we are ideally trying to avoid riders from Europe who commute every week.
"We want riders who identify with Kent and are happy to be part of our family.
"It will take both of us a little while to settle into the ways of the Championship and to get to know the talent that is there.
"Our principal aim is to entertain our superb body of loyal fans, attract still more people to follow Kent Speedway and to build for the future."
The signing of Nicholls is a huge coup, with the 41-year-old joining from Leicester Lions as Kent's new No.1 and captain.
He's fresh from captaining Leicester to the Championship title
Nicholls, who also works as a pundit on BT Sport, said: "I'm really excited about next season.
"It's always good to see clubs showing ambitions and when their management approached me about riding for them next season I was quick to say yes on a deal.
"This suits me perfectly as it's close to home and a week day track which means I can concentrate on my continuing work with the BT team and their coverage of the Grand Prix series.
"I've gone on record saying that I had a great time skippering Leicester to their first league title but time moves on and I'm just as excited about helping Kent to success in their first season at this level.
"It won't be easy but the management are trying to put together a winning team and I'm excited about the team plans they have told me.
"The track will be a new one to most teams and hopefully we can use that to our advantage early on. It's a great stadium and set-up."
Silver has seen it all during 55 years as a promoter and is thrilled to have Nicholls on board.
"Kent's entry into the Championship gave us an immediate problem in finding a big hitter to lead the team," said Silver.
"So, Scott's interest in us came like manna from heaven. There are few riders at Championship, or any, level who enjoy the reputation that is Scott's.
"He was immensely easy to deal with and quickly demonstrated to myself and that he wanted to be an integral part of the team management as well as our No.1.
"It is going to be a pleasure working with him and I could not be more delighted."
Hunt added: “I’m so happy to have secured the services of Scotty.
"Clearly no one in the modern sport here in the UK has a more impressive racing CV than Scott – with that incredible tally of British titles and success with the Great Britain team here and abroad plus league titles in the top two divisions here.
"What has impressed me so much is how team-orientated Scott is – he sees the opportunity with the TouchTec Kings in this pivotal season coming up for us in 2020 as akin to a fresh start for him.
"And that’s quite something from a rider of his huge experience. These are exciting days indeed coming for Kent Speedway."