John Louis stays in charge of Witches

UNDERFIRE Ipswich speedway promoter John Louis today stressed: "I am staying in charge."He is to run the Evening Star Witches in 2004 whatever the future holds for his son Chris.

By Elvin King

UNDERFIRE Ipswich speedway promoter John Louis today stressed: "I am staying in charge."

He is to run the Evening Star Witches in 2004 whatever the future holds for his son Chris.

Louis junior is now a promoter in his own right and working on forward planning issues concerning the Foxhall Stadium-based club that finished 12 points adrift at the foot of the Sky Sports Elite League table.

It was the worse campaign for the Witches for over 40 years – with just six league wins. They failed to gain one aggregate bonus point and lost every one of their away matches.

There was talk of the club being sold – and the Louis' said they would listen to offers - but Louis senior says that he is the man to get the world famous Witches back on track.

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His son gained his promoter's 'badge' at a British Speedway Promoters' Association meeting last month – but is still reticent about what the future might hold, emphasising that he is still a 'speedway rider.'

And today Louis senior said: "Chris is doing some forward planning for us. To be a promoter next year he will have to be voted in again and I know he has other aspects in his life that he is looking to pursue.

"Things have changed in the last couple of weeks, and he may not have the time to devote to Ipswich Speedway.

"Whatever happens I will remain in charge, as I have since I took over the reins at Foxhall Stadium in 1989.

"There is no denying that 2003 was a very disappointing season. We do not want a repeat next year so we are already working hard on making it a much more successful 2004."

Although Ipswich finished bottom there is no automatic relegation to the Premier League. Aware of the high costs involved at the top level, they made a provisional application to drop down last November.

But there is pressure on them to stay in the top flight not only from the authorities who know that the Elite League cannot run effectively on any less than the eight clubs currently involved.

A poll run by the Evening Star showed that the majority of Witches supporters are keen to see the top riders in action at Foxhall Stadium every week.

It cost Ipswich an 'astronomical' amount – believed to be around £30,000 – to fly in foreign riders this year, and this is something that Louis will have to address.

"We have said all along that we would like to stay in the Elite League," added Louis. "But is has to be affordable to both us and our fans."

Louis' livewire wife Magda is staying on as a director although she wants to have her work load reduced.

A final decision on next season will be made next month, with Louis saying: "We have a BSPA council meeting coming up and then the annual general meeting in Tenerife in November. It will be then before we know where our future will be."