PIRATES boss Matt Ford again missed out on Martin Vaculik but insisted the Grand Prix star's destiny had been to sign for Leicester.

Ford, whose long-running pursuit of Vaculik stretches back six years, admitted his interest remained when contacted by the mercurial Slovak last month.

But the former European champion instead elected to join Leicester for next year's SGB Premiership campaign.

Lions chief Damien Bates also owns Championship club Sheffield, whose team manager Simon Stead worked with Vaculik during this year's Grand Prix series.

And Ford believes those links had a big influence in the 27-year-old's switch to Beaumont Park.

He told the Daily Echo: "Martin contacted me two weeks before he left for the Australian Grand Prix and made it very clear he was going to ride in the UK in 2018.

"He asked if I was still interested in him and of course I said I would love him to join the Pirates.

"I don't think for one second that Poole was the only British club he phoned – he probably contacted a few clubs.

"But I think we were all slightly lagging behind Leicester because of Martin's association with Simon Stead – I think that's the reason he picked Leicester above other teams.

"While there is disappointment that Martin hasn't joined us, it's wonderful that he's coming to British speedway.

"I think it's a great move for him to join Leicester and it's great for the club itself as they clearly need that standard of rider.

"It would have been nice if we'd had more of a chance to sign him but I genuinely believe he was probably destined for Leicester almost from the very beginning."

Ford set the wheels in motion to try to entice Vaculik to Poole as far back as 2011.

The hard-charging racer stayed at Ford's house when he competed in the World Under-21 Championship at Wimborne Road, the pair holding talks over a possible move.

In more recent times, 14 months ago, Vaculik's potential path to the Dorset club was scuppered when he qualified for the Grand Prix series.

Vaculik had already told Ford he would like to join Pirates for the 2017 campaign, on the proviso he did not qualify for the world championship.