OVERJOYED Gary Havelock hailed his hordes of online supporters after speedway chiefs relented over a controversial fixture clash with his farewell meeting.

The British Speedway Promoters Association (BSPA) today announced that the Elite Riders Championship (ERC) would be switched to its original date – Sunday, March 23 – on the back of mounting public pressure.

Fans had vented their fury over plans to stage the curtain-raiser 48 hours earlier to accommodate broadcast partners Sky, potentially scuppering the Pirates legend’s swansong after more than 30 years in the shale sport.

However, the BSPA’s change of heart has paved the way for ‘Havvy’ to keep his long-standing date at Wimborne Road.

Reacting to the decision, the 1992 world champion told the Daily Echo: “I am just so relieved. Now, I can spend the next six weeks putting effort into my meeting.

“We ended up fighting a fight that we did not want. I never thought in a million years that they would change their minds but the power of social media has been phenomenal.

“If this had happened 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have stood a chance. Nobody would have even picked up the phone and I would have been fighting with my eyes closed and both hands tied behind my back.

“Anyone in the world who picked up on this story could see that this was the only right thing to do and, in my opinion, this situation should never have reared its ugly head in the first place.

“But I am not one to hold grudges and, as bad as it has been, I would like to thank the BSPA, Sky and whoever else was involved in forcing through this change.

“I’m glad it’s over now and we can all move on.”

Havelock continued: “The amazing support was really humbling and it has kept me going over the past few days.

“I was fighting for the people who had booked time off work, travel and hotels to be there as much as anyone because nobody would have reimbursed them.

“They could have lost out and I couldn’t let that happen. When people show such loyalty, you have to fight on.”

The BSPA’s statement read: “Our broadcast partner, Sky Sports, have advised us that a slot for live coverage of the ERC at Coventry has become available at 6pm on Sunday, March 23 and they, like ourselves, have no wish to be associated with negative publicity.

“We have agreed to move the ERC to this slot which leaves March 21 clear for Gary Havelock’s farewell at Poole.

“The BSPA look forward to a successful ERC and a fitting way to launch the first season of a new Sky Sports broadcast deal.”