PIRATES chief Matt Ford is refusing to break the bank in his 2013 contract negotiations and is warning prospective signings: “Be sensible.”

Ford issued a plea to potential recruits after revealing that the Dorset club’s finances had taken a hit during a troubled Elite League campaign.

Heavily affected by rain-offs throughout last season, Ford reported that Pirates’ crowds and bank account had suffered as a result of the dire weather.

And as he begins attempting to build a Poole team to challenge for honours next year, Ford insists he will not be held to ransom.

The Poole promoter told the Daily Echo: “My crowds have been affected and I don’t really know anybody in any form of sport that is making tens and hundreds of thousands of pounds a year more than they were making before.

“I would just like to think that the riders could be sensible in their dealings with the club.

“I will not pay more money than is coming in and I am not in the position to top up the club.

“The last month of the season, which is normally very kind to us with the play-offs and other things, was very unkind to us due to the rain-offs, and an understandable reluctance to attend a meeting for the third or fourth time because of the rain-offs.

“The Knockout Cup semi-final was a drastic day for the club with substantial losses.

“Even the final itself, ridiculously, was the first time I had ever lost money while being in the final of a competition.

“We really have to be sensible. The bank account is at the lowest it has ever been out of season.

“I need to be very sensible with the contracts we offer and I am not going to put the club into a position where it can’t afford to pay its bills.”

Yet to announce any signings, Ford confirmed he had held “opening conversations” with Turbo Twins Chris Holder and Darcy Ward and Australian compatriot Sam Masters prior to last week’s BSPA AGM.

World champion Holder and Grand Prix newcomer Ward are two of the leading talents in the shale sport and are likely to expect wages which represent their lofty status.

Pirates are expected to step up their team-building plans following the BSPA summit last week.

The Dorset big guns have been heavily linked with a swoop for Piotr Pawlicki, while Holder, Ward and Krzysztof Kasprzak are the club’s main top-order options. Masters, Kyle Howarth and Kyle Newman are all on Ford’s radar for possible reserve berths.