FUMING Pirates legend Gary Havelock blasted British speedway chiefs after the Elite League Riders Championship was rescheduled for the same night as his farewell meeting at Poole.
The annual event was brought forward by 48 hours to Friday, March 21 to fit in with broadcasters Sky, causing a clash with Havelock’s long-standing Wimborne Road date which was set back in March last year.
Ex-Pirates skipper Havelock scored 1,423 points for the Dorset club between 1998 and 2002 during a glittering career which saw him scoop the world title and two British championships in the early 1990s.
Injury forced the shale sport favourite to retire in February 2013, almost a year after breaking his collarbone, arm and ribs in a horror smash while riding for Redcar.
Poole promoter Matt Ford immediately dedicated the first meeting of 2014 to the popular star, who has since moved into team management with Elite League rivals Coventry Bees.
Former world champion Chris Holder, Pirates ace Darcy Ward and European champion Martin Vaculik were among the riders lined up for the event along with a host of Elite League riders.
However, after announcing their five-year broadcast deal Sky – an arrangement that was exclusively revealed by the Daily Echo via Twitter at the start of December – the British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) shifted the date, much to Havelock’s disgust.
“I am just devastated about the whole thing,” said Havelock.
“It meant the world to me when Matt (Ford) said he was able to offer me the stadium for the first meeting of 2014. That was a big part of our planning which has been going on since September 2012.
“With the situation as it is now, I cannot run my meeting. It’s not just the clash with a big event, it comes down to the availability of riders and so many other things behind the scenes.
“People from all over the world have booked planes and hotels to either take part or be there. A massive amount has gone into organising everything so for them (the BSPA) to do what they have done just beggars belief.
“They could have said no (to Sky) or rescheduled it for any of the other 364 days in the year. They were very apologetic and just blamed Sky but words are no good to me.
“I believe they had a word with Matt (Ford) at the start of the week to ask if it would be a problem so they clearly knew it was going to affect the meeting but went ahead anyway.
“I always felt the BSPA had little respect for me but I now know they have none at all.”
Havelock, who said he was informed of the BSPA’s decision at 9pm yesterday, added that was unsure whether the fixture would be rescheduled at this stage.
When contacted by the Daily Echo, no one from the BSPA was available for comment.