Rickardsson threatens 'Bosman' action

POOLE Pirates today confirmed that they will not be buying speedway champion Tony Rickardsson, but they still intend to use him this year.They are threatening to take his case to the European Court of Law if Ipswich Evening Star Witches continue to refuse to agree to a loan deal for 2003.

By Elvin King

POOLE Pirates today confirmed that they will not be buying speedway champion Tony Rickardsson, but they still intend to use him this year.

They are threatening to take his case to the European Court of Law if Ipswich Evening Star Witches continue to refuse to agree to a loan deal for 2003.

If so it could throw the fundamental way British speedway is run into confusion.


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Poole want to loan Ipswich asset Rickardsson for a third season, while Ipswich say they will only agree to a deal if the Pirates purchase the 32-year-old for what they describe as a reasonable fee.

"Poole will have to bite the bullet," said Witches co-promoter Magda Louis. "If they cannot afford him, they will not have him."

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Today Poole promoter Matt Ford hit back with a hard-hitting statement.

He said: "Ipswich have decided to go public on this matter. Perhaps this is the way they do things.

"We are just going to stay tight-lipped, although we will be asking the British Speedway Promoters' Association to sort the matter out.

"I am fully aware that Tony Rickardsson is willing to take this situation to the European Court of Law on a Bosman ruling under the restraint of trade laws.

"And it would take a brave person to take on the European Court of Law on a matter like this.

"Rules in a sport like speedway will not beat European law."

The Bosman ruling has transformed football deals and a player at the end of his contract is now officially available on a free transfer.

In the complicated world of speedway riders are only really under contract for a

season, which runs from March 15 until October 31 each year.

Yet they are currently deemed to be a permanent asset to the club who originally brought them into the sport, into the country or purchased them.

In other words, Scott Nicholls may only be officially under contract with Ipswich from the middle of March until the end of October each year but he is still regarded as their asset as they signed him straight from school.

At present, if he moves to another club – as he did at Poole in 1999 - Ipswich can demand a loan fee. Or if he wants to move permanently from Foxhall, Ipswich can demand a transfer fee.

A Bosman ruling in speedway would make riders free agents in the close season and free to negotiate a deal with however they want.

Ford has said that it is ludicrous to be asked to pay a transfer fee for a 32-year-old who might not decide to ride in England after this year.

"Tony will probably continue to ride in the Grand Prix series and in the Swedish and Polish League, but there is no guarantee he will stay riding in England in 2004," said Ford.

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