Australia team manager Mark Lemon has taken over as Belle Vue Aces’ new chief executive officer after Adrian Smith stepped down from the role.

Lemon has served as director of speedway and team manager at the National Speedway Stadium since owners Robin Southwell and Tony Rice purchased the Aces, securing their future ahead of the 2017 season.

Lemon has played a pivotal role in cementing the Aces’ position as one of British speedway’s biggest clubs, and he led them to the 2021 SGB Premiership Grand Final, which they lost to Peterborough Panthers.

Lemon, who also continues as Belle Vue team manager, paid tribute to outgoing CEO Smith for his efforts to secure the future of one of world speedway’s most storied clubs.

He said: “It's been a pleasure working with Adrian over the past five years and we’ve certainly made great strides in paving a secure future for speedway in Manchester and the continuation of one of Britain's most iconic speedway clubs.

“Through Adrian’s leadership, he has certainly worked hard to ensure commercial viability of the club, attracting our many great sponsors as well as listening to our fans to provide a great race-day experience at the National Speedway Stadium.

“I’m sure our fans, riders, officials, volunteers and valued partners will join me in sincerely thanking Adrian for his unwavering dedication to the club and we look forward to welcoming him back to Manchester to cheer on the Aces and Colts in the near future.

“I’ve always found it be a great honour, being involved with Belle Vue Speedway. It is an even greater privilege to step into the CEO role and I’d like to thank our owners Robin Southwell and Tony Rice for the trust they’ve placed in me to continue to grow and develop the business and sport, as well as guiding our teams to success in the 2022 season and beyond.”

While believing the time is right to step aside, Smith paid tribute to a club which has established its race track as one of the best in the world.

He said: “Since joining Belle Vue Speedway in 2017, it has been a real privilege to be involved in one of the largest and best known speedway clubs in the world. We inherited a club with a number of challenges, but with the support of the staff and volunteers, we have built the club back to a position where it is the envy of many in the speedway community across the UK and wider world, and one of which our supporters can be proud.

“Taking the decision to step down is not an easy one, but having developed the club both commercially and financially, now is the time to put our succession plans into practice.  And with Mark Lemon stepping into the role, I am convinced the success we have achieved so far will be built upon.

“I'd like to thank all the staff and volunteers for being part of the journey so far and wish Belle Vue Speedway the continued success it deserves. Thanks also go to our sponsors both old and new who have made a massive contribution to the club.

“Finally, I'd like to thank all the supporters for the trust they put in me to rebuild the club, and I hope that successes behind the scenes will transfer to the track very soon and the club lifts the league trophy.”

Club owners Southwell and Rice thanked Smith for his leadership through testing times for the sport.

They commented: “It has been great to have Adrian at the helm these past five years, leading us through what has been a difficult time for the club and the sport in general.

“The club has made big strides despite the impact of Covid and its consequent restrictions. Adrian has worked tirelessly to rebuild and grow the relationship with our fans and put the club on a firmer footing.

“We’ll miss him and he’ll always be welcome at Belle Vue. It’s great that we have a natural replacement with Mark stepping up, and we’ll all be looking to build on the platform that Adrian and his team have created.”

Photo: Ian Charles