PIRATES boss Matt Ford hopes the Supporters' Cup will prove a big hit with fans next season.

The competition will replace the Knockout Cup, which was won by Somerset this year.

And Ford is optimistic that staging the replacement event earlier in the campaign will ensure plenty of supporters make their way through the gates.

He told the Daily Echo: “We feel the Knockout Cup is probably a spent force.

“Sadly, the competition should have finished earlier but because it finished so late in the season, that had a detrimental effect on crowds.

“At that point it is getting colder and riders are almost ready to pack up for the year.

“We are saying this event has to be finished by the last day of July, which means it will be better attended."

One intriguing aspect of the competition will see home supporters – via social media – vote for riders to race in one particular heat.

Ford added: “Of course, we want the fans to interact with the event. It’s going to be exciting as fans will play a bigger role in the meetings, rather than just viewing."