Peterborough team plans for the new Elite League season have been dealt a huge blow after Brett Woodifield was refused a work permit.

The Australian has had his application, and subsequent appeal, turned down and the club have now been left with no option but to search for a replacement reserve.

Woodifield has fallen victim to strict new guidelines regarding work permits for overseas riders. Premier League riders have to reach an eight-point average to retain their work permit and he fell well below that mark after a poor season by his standards with Trelawny - and his failure to finish in the top four of his state championship back home in Australia has proved the final blow.

Peterborough were aware their might be problems with Woodifield but believed they would be able to get round them. Co-promoter Ian Jarvis admitted it is a big blow for both the club and said: "It's a real sickener for us. Brett would have been a really key part of the team for us this year and I'm sure he would have improved his average considerably."

"Unfortunately the authorities just wouldn't budge and there is nothing else we can do. Brett was desperate to come back and it is such a shame for him and us. Now we just have to look for a new reserve."

Team manager Jim Lynch revealed that a replacement No.7 has already been earmarked and an announcement should be made early next week.

Peterborough fans will be able to quiz the club's promoters about all matters speedway at the club's Fans Forum next month.

Supporters can put all the club's decisions over the winter under the microscope whether it's the make-up of the 2002 team, the controversial limit on Grand Prix riders or the rise in admission prices.

It will take place at The Railway Club, Peterborough on Sunday, March 3 at 2pm. Admission is ?1 which includes refreshments.

Jarvis said: "The fans forums have been a huge success in the past and it offers a great chance to gauge our supporters feelings about the new season. There has been plenty going on since the last meeting of last season so there won't be a shortage of controversial topics!"