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Poole Pirates chief Matt Ford: Lessons to be learned from plight of Birmingham and Eastbourne
Speedway’s top flight could be thrown into turmoil with the cash-strapped Perry Barr outfit on the brink of extinction after outgoing promoter Alan Phillips last week announced a financial shortfall in excess of £400,000.
That was followed by yesterday’s announcement that Eastbourne Eagles had been put on the market with their promotion team set to stand down at the end of the 2014 season.
Under Ford’s ownership, Poole has established itself as one of Britain’s heavyweights, consistently challenging for honours throughout his 15-year tenure.
That success has often seen Pirates vilified by supporters of rival clubs but the long-serving chief insisted there was no room for complacency and vowed to ensure that Poole would remain on an even keel.
Reflecting on speedway’s recent upheaval, Ford told the Daily Echo: “The past week or so has given me food for thought and made realise how we cannot afford to fall into the same trap.
“Seeing clubs with management changes afoot has opened my eyes a little bit and made everybody at the club acutely aware of the pitfalls.
"You can become a little lazy at times when lots of things are happening and you don’t work as hard.
“From time to time, I see certain things we could do better. We’re definitely slipping in one or two areas of community work which is something I want to push on with next year.
“Quitting my job to put my effort into speedway full-time all those years ago was one of the best things I did in terms of gaining support for the club.
“I always say that unless you are successful off the track, you’re never going to give the fans what they need on it.
"We have never been the most popular club in the sport but that’s irrelevant because we’re here every day, making ourselves available.
“You can’t just turn up on a race day, open up the doors and expect people to come and I think that’s one of the biggest differences at Poole.
“Sadly, a sport that seemed to be on the up again is back in headlines for the wrong reasons and unquestionably, it is not good to have these problems highlighted but it is a lesson in the harsh realities for everybody.
“Promoters work hard and put their livelihoods at risk by putting on these events. It’s heartbreaking when it does go wrong so we must all take note.”
Poole name a full-strength side as they continue their pursuit of an Elite league play-off place at home to Wolverhampton tonight (7.30pm).
Wolves: (from) Tai Woffinden, Jacob Thorssell, Ricky Wells, Ty Proctor, Piotr Pawlicki, Joe Jacobs, Tom Perry. Team manager: Peter Adams.