PROMOTER Danny Ford insisted it was “gut-wrenching on a personal level” to axe Zane Keleher from Pirates’ line-up but added: “You’ve got to think of the bigger picture.”

The Wimborne Road outfit revealed they would be changing their team plans for the rest of the 2021 season and were actively seeking a replacement for the Aussie charger.

Competing in his debut British season, Keleher had totalled 14+3 points from five meetings in the skull and crossbones during a difficult start to the campaign.

Owner Matt Ford informed Keleher of the team change but Danny Ford insisted the decision had to be made to benefit Pirates’ strength.

Danny told the Daily Echo: “We came to the realisation it wasn’t quite working here based on his results.

“They weren’t quite up to the standard that Zane and ourselves were expecting, so we felt a change was needed to strengthen ourselves for the rest of the season.

“Unfortunately, Zane is going to be the one who misses out.

“I have no doubt he will pick up another team place and slot in quite nicely.”

Rockhampton-born Keleher was due to make his British debut last season but saw the campaign wiped out due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He then struggled to get back to his homeland and spent the summer stuck in the UK.

But the former motocross rider decided to come back in 2021 in a bid to make a success of his time with Pirates.

Asked how he took the news when it was given to him, Danny Ford replied: “Not well. Obviously, he’s not going to be overjoyed when you tell someone they are out of a job, as anyone expects.

“But as I said, I have spoken to him, I have explained to him there is no hard feelings and I don’t want there to be any hard feelings.

“I see him regularly and socially, so it is really horrible. I’m sure he has a little bit of resentment at the minute but hopefully we can get over that and carry on a friendship.”

He added: “It’s so cut-throat and it is horrible, you know? Ideally you want all the boys to hit the ground running and win every race and you don’t have to make any changes at all.

“But speedway is not like that, it’s just in the nature of the sport, the riders do understand that. It’s Zane’s first year here and so he probably doesn’t understand it quite as much as some of the veterans do.

“But he will get to learn that and it is horrible.

“When we decided to make this decision, it was gut-wrenching on a personal level but you’ve got to think of the bigger picture.

“The team is bigger than any individual, it’s bigger than myself, it’s bigger than Middlo, it’s bigger than the rest of the riders, so they know that and they have to accept that.

“Poole Pirates is a big machine, it has to keep on moving and can’t stop for anyone.

“You can’t look at these things with emotion. Decisions have been made here with emotion in the past and they haven’t panned out.

“You just have to go with the brain rather than the heart, unfortunately.”

It is understood Keleher is set to line up a team place with Plymouth Gladiators.