PIRATES promoter Matt Ford paid tribute to “the most loyal servant” Bjarne Pedersen who has announced the 2020 season will be his last in the sport.

Danish star Pedersen, who made his Pirates debut in 2002 and last appeared in 2016, won three Elite League titles in his time at Wimborne Road and is the club’s second highest all-time points scorer.

Ford said: “In my 21 years of running this wonderful club, unquestionably Bjarne would be the rider I would consider to have been the most loyal servant.

“In truth, he was very unlucky not to have a prolonged term with the club, but the discovery of Chris (Holder), Darcy (Ward) and then Magic (Maciej Janowski) meant that with the restrictions of the points limit Bjarne was sadly not our first choice.

“To be totally honest, I don’t even like saying that, because as a person he is simply the greatest friend I’ve had in the sport.

“Bjarne had a testimonial here in 2009 and it was always my intention to honour him with a farewell also, which we have discussed.

“Whatever happens, I personally have to see Bjarne ride Wimborne Road again before he retires, whether that be as a Pirate, in a challenge match or at his own farewell meeting.”