Rickardsson deal is done

POOLE Pirates'new offer for Ipswich Witches asset Tony Rickardsson has today been accepted.So after much wrangling and a bitter war of words the world speedway champion will ride for the Dorset club in 2003.

By Elvin King

POOLE Pirates'new offer for Ipswich Witches asset Tony Rickardsson has today been accepted.

So after much wrangling and a bitter war of words the world speedway champion will ride for the Dorset club in 2003.

Yesterday Poole threatened to take the case to the European Court of Law after Ipswich refused to discuss loaning the 32-year-old for a third year.

Witches promoter John Louis yesterday received the new offer in the post from Pirates

promoter Matt Ford.

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And today, after discussing the deal with wife Magda, he is happy for Rickardsson to ride for the Pirates.

Louis said: "There has been a change of position from the Poole side. They have put forward a new deal, although it is not a full transfer.

"Any court action would not have been against Ipswich Witches, but against authorities who run speedway in England. The implications would have re-shaped our sport, not our club.

"Thankfully it has now been sorted." Poole are believed to be paying Ipswich in the region of £500 a meeting to borrow the five-time world champion.

"We did nothing that was not within the rules and we were defending our business," said Mrs Louis.

Ford said today that the issue was now behind both clubs. "We have struck a deal for Tony to lead the Pirates in 2003, and to have first option for 2004," he said.

"A solution has been found that pleases both parties. I am happy that we have finally got to our goal.

"It gives both Tony and ourselves a little bit more security. And it is nice to go into the season with the knowledge that he will be onboard for two years as long as nothing unexpected pops up.

"There is always the fear that the chance will be taken away for Grand Prix riders to take part in British speedway.

"I hasten to add that terms haven't been agreed with Tony on a two-year contract, but at least we are in a position with his parent club that we will have first call on his services in 2004 if he wants to remain with us.

"You don't get any better than Tony, and we are pleased the matter has now been resolved."

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