Workington Comets have announced they are withdrawing from the speedway Championship due to long-standing financial problems.

Owner Laura Morgan announced this morning that she had "reluctantly been forced to admit defeat".

It means the 2018 treble-winning team will not defend their titles in 2019.

Morgan had invited offers for the club, but this has not been successful.

Despite having riders signed up for the forthcoming season, the Comets are bowing out after 20 successive seasons of Championship level speedway at Derwent Park.

But she said it may not be the end of the club.

Workington Comets will now apply to have their licence put "on ice", with a view to making a track return in 2020.

Morgan said: “For so many reasons this is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my life.

“Last season was by far and away our most successful season on-track and far exceeded the expectations of everyone connected with the club. However, that success came at a huge personal financial cost and we are still dealing with the consequences.

“That was my sixth season as club owner and we have lost significant amounts of money every year, but those losses were magnified last year, and that success has ultimately been part of our downfall.

“Following our success and the publicity generated we tried to secure some significant additional backing to take us into the new season and after initial enthusiasm that has proved to be extremely difficult. But, unfortunately time is running out and, following ongoing dialogue with the BSPA, we have reached a point where we need to reluctantly make a sensible decision."

She stressed that they were making the "devastating" decision now to be fair to riders and other clubs.

“With just two months to go before the start of the new season we cannot, however much we would like to, allow this to drag on as we need to be fair to the riders, other clubs and the BSPA for the good of the sport.

“Even as late as last week we were hopeful we could still continue however for several reasons that has ultimately proved impossible," said Morgan.

“The last thing we want to do is start the season and be forced to pull out part way through as that does nobody any favours and, whilst this is a painful position to be in, it gives the club time to prepare and hopefully obtain additional support with a view to re-joining the Championship for 2020 after a year on ice."

She stressed that fans who have bought tickets will get their money back.

“Naturally all those that have purchased season tickets and books of tickets for 2019 will receive a full refund," added Morgan.