Magda: We can't track a competitive team
SPEEDWAY: Ipswich Evening Star Witches director Magda Louis today warned supporters to expect another barren speedway season in 2003.And she emphasised that the situation was out of the control of the Foxhall Stadium-based club, calling for the position of British Speedway Promoters' Association chairman Chris van Straaten to consider his position.
By Elvin King
IPSWICH Evening Star Witches director Magda Louis today warned supporters to expect another barren speedway season in 2003.
And she emphasised that the situation was out of the control of the Foxhall Stadium-based club, calling for the position of British Speedway Promoters' Association chairman Chris van Straaten to consider his position.
The sticking point is the 'rolling averages' system that is determining the way Sky Sports Elite League 2003 sides are built.
Teams that did well in 2002, like champions Wolverhampton, will in effect be able to track sides with a combined 'real' average of around three points more than the likes of Ipswich, Belle Vue, King's Lynn and Peterborough.
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The fact that van Straaten is also Wolverhampton promoter only adds to Ipswich's current frustrations.
The Witches are two second-string riders away from completing their 2003 league side, with Jarek Hampel, Scott Nicholls, Paul Hurry, Tom P Madsen and Danny Bird having agreed terms.
Chris Louis is one of the riders being considered but he suffers greatly from the 'rolling average' rule that takes into account averages in both 2001 and 2002.
Although Louis' average this year until he damaged his back in April was 6.58, taking into account his 2001 average he will be forced to race next year with a 7.63 average.
In contrast, Wolves have five riders who will all benefit – Michael Karlsson (9.95 last year, 9.41 rolling average), Peter Karlsson (9.26 – 8.90), Adam Skornicki (7.93 – 6.58), Daniel Nermark (6.58 – 5.93) and David Howe (6.54 – 6.08).
This means that if Wolverhampton keep the above riders they will be building their team at over 48 points compared to Ipswich's 45.
When Ipswich won the treble in 1998 they had the heart ripped out of their side being forced to drop back to 40 points and having to discard Tony Rickardsson and Scott Nicholls.
"These days the rich get richer," said Mrs Louis. "And the poor get poorer."
Foxhall crowd levels were not high last season, and another season where Ipswich struggle to make an impact could have severe financial implications on the Witches.
"It is an uneven playing field, and after one poor season we are set to have another one," she added.
"We are putting together the best side we can, and we went for Bjarne Pedersen who has benefited from the new system as his actual 2002 average was 7.19 but his rolling average is 5.88.
"He was persuaded to re-sign for Poole on loan. In my opinion the rule, correct in its original concept to stop manipulation through a season, is the biggest scam in the recent history of speedway."
Mrs Louis is unhappy that the decision was made prior to last month's annual general meeting.
"It appears that someone was trying to rush it through," she said.
"Clubs were denied the opportunity to an open vote. Chris van Straaten must have considered that day as the happiest moment in his life as Wolves promoter, but as chairman of the BSPA it was his darkest moment, allowing a grossly unfair rule to stay for 2003 team building.
"After being elected to represent and protect member clubs, including Ipswich, our trust has been lost
"The only honourable thing to do is for Mr van Straaten to consider his position as BSPA chairman so that he cannot be accused of unreasonably benefiting from the rules that came into speedway on his own recommendation."
Mr van Straaten, whose Wolves side finished runners-up in the league, and then won the title after three lucrative home and one away match in the play-offs, said: "Rolling averages were brought in to remove a cloud that was hanging over speedway. Clubs were being accused of massaging their averages.
"It is universally accepted that this has worked. I can understand that there are down sides to every rule and I sympathise with Chris Louis' plight.
"The decision was made democratically and as a professional sport we can't be seen to put measures back on the table just because they suit some people."
"My brief as BSPAchairman is to look after the best interests of British speedway. My interest in Wolverhampton does not influence this aim."
BOTH the Australian and New Zealand Grand Prix have been cancelled for next year after promoter Slipstream Motorsports failed to fulfill their three-year contract.
Now GP organisers Benfield Sports International are considering taking the events in-house for the 2004 series.