PIRATES boss Matt Ford insisted the controversial one-over-eight rule had served its purpose in the 2018 campaign.

Promoters decided each team could have just one rider with an average of 8.00 or higher, in a bid to create an even playing field.

And although the sanction has been axed for 2019, Ford believes it worked well during the season it was enforced.

He told the Daily Echo: “It was brought in solely to help Somerset and Leicester obtain a top rider and was done for the benefit of British speedway.

“I have to point to last year being the closest I can remember. Six clubs could have become champions and qualification for the play-offs went down to the last week.

“While it was frustrating for some, it was proven to be a success and was the right move at the right time."

Ford chose Brady Kurtz as his over-eight rider, the former Australian champion proving a key cog in Poole's SGB Premiership title success.

Kurtz rode at number one for the majority of the season despite not having been signed to fulfil that role.

The 22-year-old saw his season end early when he broke his collarbone in the second leg of the play-off semi-final against Somerset.