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No added bonus is a minus point
HAVE British speedway chiefs shot themselves in the foot after their swift abolishment of the tried and tested aggregate bonus point?
That is the question on many shale-shifting fans' lips this week after Pirates' two starkly contrasting matches against Wolves in the Elite League.
First of all, the Black Country outfit hammered Poole Castle Cover 54-36 at Monmore Green when the visitors kept it reasonably tight until heat 11, but then capitulated in the last four races.
The Dorset club exacted swift revenge two nights later when they crushed Wolves 62-31 at Wimborne Road in what can only be described as one-way traffic.
Under the old system, originally introduced in 1985 but abolished over the winter, Pirates would have triumphed 98-85 on aggregate and picked up an extra league point on top of the two for winning their home match.
But you can be sure Wolves would have used a tactical rider, and maybe also a tactical substitute, both scoring double points, at Poole much earlier than heat 12 if the bonus had still been up for grabs.
I know three points, rather than two for an away win, has been introduced as an extra incentive for visiting sides this term.
I'm also aware the main thinking was to get rid of the huge home track advantage teams like Eastbourne, Peterborough and Wolves enjoyed in the bonus point equation because of the unusual size and shape of their circuits.
I'm all for changing rules to try and improve speedway as a product so it attracts new, vibrant younger, fans who are, after all, the future lifeblood of the sport.
However, I just have this niggling feeling inside that Britain's speedway bosses have got this one horribly wrong, especially if the Wolves-Pirates matches are used as examples.
I wasn't at Monmore, but by all accounts the match was done and dusted by the end of heat 12 when plucky Poole, already without injured Adam Skornic-ki, were stuffed by Karol Zabik's horrific engine problems.
That means the last three heats were largely irrelevant, although race points difference will apply when teams are tied on league points.
Back at the Dorset bowl, Pirates, with Zabik back on top form, led by a mighty 42-18 after heat 10, making the last five races - one third of the action - hugely irrelevant.
Thank goodness that match wasn't screened live on Sky Sports because if it had and I'd been watching on television, I'm certain I would have started flicking channels to find something better well before the end of the programme.
And that is not a scenario Sky's bigwigs want. They don't like big wins, whether it is the home or away team in control.
Sky demand close matches, and they got it in bundles when Eastbourne triumphed 47-43 at Coventry on Monday in their first televised match of the season.
They won't tolerate too many one-way traffic encounters like Pirates versus Wolves, though, when the loss of the bonus clearly took the edge off the outcome of the late meeting action.
Pirates team manager Neil Middleditch and Swindon boss Alun Rossiter have already appealed to the British Speedway Promoters' Association for the re-introduction of the bonus point.
I echo their sentiments, and although I know it is too late for this year, I would like to see bonus points back in 2009.