CO-PROMOTER Danny Ford admitted his sympathy for Pirates’ Australian riders and added: “The club will try to support them in the best way possible.”

The trio of Ben Cook, Zane Keleher and Josh MacDonald had all travelled from their homeland in a bid to debut in the skull and crossbones this season.

But with the coronavirus pandemic delaying the start of the campaign, the racers have yet to turn a wheel at Wimborne Road.

Ford told the Daily Echo: “Obviously it’s really difficult for the Aussie riders. I really do sympathise with them massively.

“They have given up lives in Australia to travel halfway across the world and then not being able to earn from their profession. It can’t be easy.

“We will try to support them in the best way we can and hopefully the season will not be delayed too much longer after April 15.”

The Daily Echo understands Keleher, Cook and MacDonald are all still in the UK.

Keleher is based at Fordingbridge, Cook is at team boss Neil Middleditch’s base in Sturminster Marshall, while MacDonald is staying in Sheffield.

“A few of the riders from other teams have already headed home but they have had to quarantine themselves on arrival back in Australia,” said Ford.

“Whether our boys want to do that is entirely up to them at this stage. I would probably advise to them not to go – because there is not a lot they can do once they do get back.

“The club will try to support them in the best way possible.

“Financially it’s not a great situation for us either. We can’t make any money ourselves. It’s a difficult situation all round. Whatever they decide to do, we will try to help them through it.”

Pirates had been set to hold their annual press and practice day at Wimborne Road tomorrow, traditionally the curtain-raiser ahead of their domestic campaign.

“It’s obviously incredibly frustrating for myself – this being my first real season to really get stuck in and implement some of my own ideas,” said Ford.

“But ultimately it’s out of my hands and out of British speedway’s hands. There wasn’t a lot we could do and the decision is the right one.”