SIMON Stead has hailed Swindon as a ‘special club’ after his four-year stay at the Abbey Stadium came to an end.

The Great Britain international has been a hugely popular figure since he arrived at the Robins in time for the 2009 season, but that relationship has now ended after it was announced on Sunday that he had been released.

While Stead could feasibly return at an unspecified future date as he remains a club asset, for now he will ply his trade elsewhere in British speedway.

And the former Coventry man, who held his testimonial at Blunsdon in August, said he would miss racing for a club based in what has almost become his second home.

“I’ve loved every minute of it, it’s one of the best moves I’ve ever made,” he said.

“I’ve been involved in a fantastic club with some amazing riders and made lots of new friends.

“Swindon will always stay special for me, it’s the club I won my first Elite League title with and I’d have loved another one.

“Since I received the news I was being released, I’ve had so many messages of support from people backing me and wanting to know where I’m riding next year.

“The fans’ support has been unwavering through thick and thin. They have always backed me and it’s been very, very special.

“The fanbase one of the best I’ve ever known and I won’t be a stranger, whether it’s coming back with another team or just to watch a meeting.

“It’s certainly going to seem strange on a Thursday night not racing at the Abbey, but for now I’d like to thank everyone for their amazing support and also the management for involving me in the team for the last four years.”

Talk surrounding Stead will now inevitably move on to his destination next year, and whether he will ride in the Elite League, Premier League or both.

The Yorkshireman was keen to double up in 2012 and speedway’s rulebook stood in the way, but that is not the case this time round.

Stead said: “The idea is to ride in the Elite and Premier League given my form last year, which I think was down to a lack of meetings.

“I wanted Swindon to be the club that benefited from me doubling up, but that won’t happen now, “I’ve just got to weigh up my options and do what’s right for me. We’ll see what happens.

“Clubs have got permission to speak to me and I’m not short of offers, which is a nice position to be in.”