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Poole Pirates: Matt Ford reveals fears over possible big-name exodus
The Poole promoter claimed big-name riders – including Australian superstar Ward – might not return to Britain next year should the shale sport lose TV funding.
Ford reported that the Elite League was in the final year of its Sky Sports contract, with an announcement yet to be made on any potential renewal of the deal.
Many pundits and fans have predicted that major changes could come into force this winter when speedway chiefs hold their annual meeting over new rules.
And Ford believes that UK clubs could struggle financially to retain the likes of Pirates hero Ward and fellow leading lights Greg Hancock and Maciej Janowski.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Echo ahead of Poole’s Elite League play-off semi-final second leg against Swindon at Wimborne Road tomorrow (7.30pm), Ford said: “This could very well be the last time anyone sees Darcy Ward representing the Pirates.
“As things stand at the moment, it could be the last time people see the likes of Darcy Ward, Greg Hancock, Hans Andersen and Maciej Janowski in British speedway for the foreseeable future.
“People haven’t really thought about it. If the Sky deal, which comes to an end at the end of this season, (is not renewed) or a new deal found, then British speedway will have to make enormous changes because the revenues coming in would be substantially less.
“For all those people who are thinking ‘I must get down to Poole next year to see this kid Darcy Ward’, they might miss it. You could have a week or two to do it.”
Meanwhile, Ford admits Pirates are facing a tough task in their bid to overturn the 52-42 deficit from last Monday’s first leg at Blunsdon – with their challenge made more difficult by the absence of Rohan Tungate due to a broken finger.
Ford added: “Rohan Tungate is out so it means we have to go with rider replacement because he is in the main body of the team. It also means we will name Kyle Newman as a number eight who can take rider replacement rides should we need him to. Tomas H Jonasson takes one ride and the reserves do the rest.
“We have given ourselves an extremely steep hill to climb – I don’t want to say it is a mountain to climb. What will be, will be.
“I don’t want there to be any excuses just because of Rohan’s injury. Let’s not go down the route of using excuses.
“Last Monday, we were beaten by a team who were, quite simply, better than us, as has been showed over the course of the season.”
- See tomorrow's Daily Echo for more speedway previews with Neil Middleditch, Darcy Ward and Kyle Howarth.
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