Oxford demise is just the start

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches' skipper, Chris Louis, today predicted big changes to speedway's Sky Sports Elite League in 2008.This follows the shock withdrawal of Oxford from the league, which was confirmed this morning.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches' skipper, Chris Louis, today predicted big changes to speedway's Sky Sports Elite League in 2008.

This follows the shock withdrawal of Oxford from the league, which was confirmed this morning.

“It is, unfortunately, a sign of the times,” said Louis, who is also rider/manager at Foxhall Stadium.


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“The authorities are well aware of the lack of availability of enough quality riders and there will probably be big changes next season.”

Louis does not see any other clubs falling by the wayside this term, although there are rumours that Reading - with some home crowds of less than 500 - are experiencing difficulties and may be made available for sale very soon.

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“It is a huge shame that it has happened and a big disappointment,” added Louis. “I am sure it was a decision that was not taken lightly.

“I don't look upon Oxford as scapegoats or fall-guys - they have been notoriously failing for a number of years.

“A number of promoters have come and gone and they have been a difficult club to manage.

“Many years ago they were one of the best clubs around in the days when Hans Nielsen, Simon Wigg and Marvyn Cox were in their side.

“I am sure they will bounce back, but in the meantime their riders will be looking to carry on riding somewhere else.

“Jesper B Jensen is a rider we have already expressed an interest in while it is too early to comment on whether we would consider Steve Johnston, who rode for us in 1997.”

Pepe Protasiewicz, who rode for Ipswich in 2005 and 2006, was reported to have quit the Cheetahs on Monday and he will also come on the market although his Russian League commitments restrict his availability.

The Witches will be battling to climb off the foot of the table when they entertain a depleted Eastbourne at Foxhall Stadium tonight.

Wins in their last three home meetings had seen the Witches move above both Oxford and Belle Vue, but with the two points they gained against the Cheetahs on May 17 due to be expunged from the records it slips Ipswich back to the bottom.

Oxford, who were due to ride at Reading tomorrow, are promoted by Peterborough co-promoter Colin Horton and Aaron Lanney. Horton led the Panthers to the league title last season before expanding his interests to Oxford, who were knocked out of the KO Cup by Ipswich earlier in the season.

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