Sheffield Tigers see off interest from Championship rivals to retain Bates

Josh Bates races inside Leicester's Cameron Heeps
Josh Bates races inside Leicester's Cameron Heeps
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Josh Bates is staying put with Sheffield – despite cheeky enquiries from rival Championship clubs.

Barnsley boy Bates is a firm favourite on the Owlerton terraces but at least two other clubs made contact with the club asking if he was available.

He admits the interest was flattering but once it became obvious his average fitted into the team building jigsaw at Sheffield he was always likely to stay.

“It’s nice when other clubs ask about you because it shows you are doing something right,” he said. “But Sheffield is my home club and I was delighted when I was told my average fitted into their plans and we could agree everything for me to stay here.

“It’s a great track and the fans are brilliant with me. I think they can see I always give it everything I’ve got and I’m also passionate about my racing.

“I’m pleased to be back and it’s good to be linking up with Lasse Bjerre again after he was announced last week. We’ve got a lot to live up to after winning the title last season but we know what it takes and we’ll be going for it.”

Bates carded a 6.54 average with Bjerre on 8.32 as Tigers have 42.5 to build up to.

Co-promoter Damien Bates said: “The team is starting to come together nicely now and we’re hopeful of more signings very soon.

“I can also confirm there will be at least two new faces in the side, we are looking at riders who can ride Sheffield well and who can improve their average.

“Josh can sometimes feel the pressure of riding for his local club, he sets himself high expectations, but he’s a determined lad and I’m sure he will look to increase his average.

“The Championship is starting to look really strong and with Lakeside coming in there’s more competition because they aren’t joining the league just to make up the numbers.”

It seems increasingly likely Josh Grajczonek will only race in the Premiership to free up his diary for European racing.