Louis optimistic on future
SPEEDWAY: Ipswich Witches speedway promoter John Louis is confident this weekend will confirm the continuation of the Sky Sports Elite League.Louis will join fellow speedway promoters in a plush Swindon hotel for the league's annual conference.
By Elvin King
IPSWICH Witches speedway promoter John Louis is confident this weekend will confirm the continuation of the Sky Sports Elite League.
Louis will join fellow speedway promoters in a plush Swindon hotel for the league's annual conference. But most of the important decisions will be taken on Thursday afternoon.
He said: "We had a meeting last Tuesday at the headquarters of the British Speedway Promoters' Association in Rugby – and have had a chance since to think over the many suggestions made.
"A special pre-conference meeting has been called for Thursday, and the plan is to start the conference the following day with most of the major points already agreed.
"It was interesting to hear different views last week. Some may not have appeared appetising at first but having mulled over them for a week they now appear worth considering.
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"This has been the point of the meetings we have held over the last month or so. We will not go into the conference itself completely cold."
Louis confirmed that his brief will be to continue the league with Grand Prix riders. "I know it is difficult for some clubs who find it very hard to mix in with GP dates," he said.
"It is a problem and there is not an easy answer. We all enjoy watching Grand Prix racing as it is a superb spectacle. And there is no doubt that it is good for the overall well-being of the sport.
"Promoters are resolved to keeping the Elite League going, and the vibes I had last week was that we may well be in a position where we can run with at least the same number of clubs as this year.
"We have to try and find a way round the problems and come up with a long term solution. We want to keep GP riders involved and I believe that is essential to our business.
"On the other hand, we don't want a conflict of interests to affect the livelihoods of promoters who run club speedway on Friday and Saturday nights.
"With the GP series moving up from six and expected to reach a possible 15 meetings in the not-too-distant future, now is the time to meet the problem head-on and come up with an answer that will stand the test of time.
"There were a lot of good suggestions put forward last Tuesday, and the league management committee met the following day."
Oxford and Peterborough have both expressed reservations about continuing in the top flight in 2003, which would leave just seven clubs – not enough to carry on.
There are optimistic signs that Ipswich will track a strong side next season and if the two wavering clubs can be persuaded to stay it would be just what Louis wants.
"I expected our 2002 side to have been very successful," said Louis. "Injuries put paid to that, and we must hope for better luck next term. We hope to complete our team building by Christmas."
BSPA chairman Chris Van Straaten said: "The most important thing is that all Elite League clubs are talking and understand the problems certain clubs are experiencing."
IPSWICH Witches have tickets for next year's British Grand Prix in Cardiff, June 14, on offer at reduced rates until Christmas – £35 tickets cost £31.50 and £25 tickets cost £22.50 until December 24.
Please send a stamped addressed envelope, and cheque made payable to Ipswich Speedway Promotions, to Ipswich Speedway, c/o 7 Penshurst Road, Ipswich IP3 8QZ.
THE annual general meeting of the Ipswich Witches Supporters Club takes place at Foxhall Stadium on Thursday, December 12, at 7.30pm. John and/or Magda Louis will be on hand to answer questions from fans.