Make or break time for Witches

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches have made an official application to join the Premier League in 2004.And Magda Louis, a director of the speedway club that has run continuously at Foxhall Stadium since 1969, says she sympathises with the financial plight of Ipswich Town FC, who went into administration this week.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches have made an official application to join the Premier League in 2004.

And Magda Louis, a director of the speedway club that has run continuously at Foxhall Stadium since 1969, says she sympathises with the financial plight of Ipswich Town FC, who went into administration this week.

She blames the high costs of Grand Prix riders for putting the club on the brink of a step down from the top level.


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"This year will be make or break," she said today, confirming that the club may not be able to

support Sky Sports Elite League racing for much longer.

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"We are at the highest level and have the highest risk. We are possibly taking that risk for the last time.

"I envy Premier League promoters who have no fixture interference from the Grand Prix and no huge points money bill each meeting for their riders.

"To make sure we meet all the requirements, we have already put in an application to join the Premier League next year.

"It is not me who pays the riders, it is our supporters. If they come through the turnstiles in sufficient numbers we may be able to stay in the top flight.

"But with Oxford also likely to consider their position next autumn, the life of the Elite League could be short."

There are only eight teams involved this season, following the dropping down of King's Lynn and other clubs beside Ipswich and Oxford are also by no means certain of staying put next season.

"I am heartened by the reaction to the side we have put together," added Mrs Louis. "It is a young exciting side and we hope it can attract big crowds to Foxhall each week.

"They will race for their lives every match, but at the end of the season it may become obvious that the Ipswich public want something else. We shall see.

"We don't want to get into the same financial strife as Ipswich Town, but can fully understand the Blues' problems. The economic climate is not conducive to sporting clubs like ours."

The Witches plan to start their season with a home challenge match against Swedish side Kaparna at Foxhall Stadium on Thursday March 20.

Both Jarek Hampel and Kim Jansson ride for Kaparna and will be in opposition next month with Jansson riding for the visitors.

Meanwhile Daniel King, the 16-year-old Peterborough Conference League speedway rider, has signed for Ipswich Witches and will ride at number seven in their British League Cup side.

Peterborough-based King takes the place originally earmarked for James Brundle, who is now riding for King's Lynn in the Premier League. King comes in with a three-point average.

Ipswich, who have booked Leigh Lanham to continue as a floater to share reserve duties with Danny Bird, have officially declared their Elite League one-to-seven: Scott Nicholls, Jarek Hampel, Paul Hurry, Chris Louis, Chris Slabon, Tom P Madsen, Danny Bird/Leigh Lanham.

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