The immediate futures of Barnsley's two top motorsport stars have been in doubt this week with speedway rider Josh Bates appearing to announce his retirement while Oliver Rowland could be closing in on a place in Formula One for next season.

Bates, 21, signed up with top flight Leicester Lions and lower league Sheffield Tigers earlier this month but posted on Twitter this week that he had retired from the sport. It is understood that the former national youth champion is struggling with personal problems and both clubs have offered their support to the rider, who is from Worsbrough.

Both Leicester and Sheffield hope that the Barnsley racer – whose uncle, Damien, owns both tracks – will take the proper advice and then reconsider his decision.

The two clubs said in a joint statement: "We have spoken at length with Josh and it is a very difficult time for him. He has explained everything, we understand his position and we are fully supportive. We will give him all the time and space he needs to sort himself out.

"Obviously we hope that, given time to clear his head, he will have a rethink and come back strongly. There has been a welter of support from fans and well-wishers since the news broke and Josh himself would like to offer thanks for all the messages he has received."Josh also tweeted: 'Just a quick note to thank you all for your support. It means a lot.'

Meanwhile, there has also been confusion this week surrounding Penistone's Oliver Rowland who, last month, finished third in the Formula Two championship and is hoping for a place in Formula One for next season. Rowland, who lives in Dodworth, released a statement saying he was in discussions to compete for Williams in Formula One next season

The statement read: "My team is in talks with Williams, as they are with other teams. British car, British driver – it fits well. Lots of drivers seem to be in the frame for 2018, so we will just have to see what happens."

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Williams denied they were in advanced negotiations with the Barnsley man but it is understood that he is in contention to fill either a racing seat or back-up driver's role next year. The 25-year-old has plenty of other options for next season, having spent the early part of December testing for Formula Two's Spanish outfit Racing Engineering in Abu Dhabi then he went to Japan for talks with several Super Formula teams. There are understood to be at least six teams in various championships keen to recruit him.

Rowland, who was Renault's development driver this year, told the Chronicle: "My guys are in talks with Williams. I am not sure if I am their number one choice because they have a lot of options. The first priority would be to get their racing seat for F1 next year but, if that doesn't happen, then we are in talks with several other F1 teams, including Renault, to be a reserve driver and for me to compete in another championship alongside that. I expect it all to be decided before Christmas but that's not definite."