Witches suffer plane drain

JOHN Louis admitted today that Ipswich Evening Star Witches had incurred 'astronomical' costs this year flying in foreign riders.And he hinted that it it is likely to be close to the annual general meeting of the Speedway Promoters' Association Association in November before the club's plans for 2004 are confirmed.

By Elvin King

JOHN Louis admitted today that Ipswich Evening Star Witches had incurred 'astronomical' costs this year flying in foreign riders.

And he hinted that it it is likely to be close to the annual general meeting of the Speedway Promoters' Association Association in November before the club's plans for 2004 are confirmed.

Although they finished bottom of the Sky Sports Elite League with just six wins from 28 matches, there is no automatic relegation down to the Premier League.

But this is still a path that Ipswich might take, having made a provisional application last November.

"It is all about costs," said Louis, who did not attend a promoters' meeting last Tuesday. "We do not have the final figures yet but it looks as though we have just about hung in there this season."

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The Witches used five overseas-based riders – Polish duo Jarek Hampel and Chris Slabon and Swedes Kim Jansson, Daniel Nermark and Freddie Eriksson – during the course of the 2003 campaign.

"We were flying in three, sometimes four, foreign riders each week and the cost of air fares was astronomical," said Louis. "It was a huge drain on our resources."

Louis, who on September 23 will be attending a meeting of all promoters interested in riding in next year's Elite League, stressed that Ipswich's decision will be based on finance.

"If costs come down then we will be interested in staying in the top flight," he said. "The general feeling from this week's meeting was that GP riders will stay and that the points limit will be lowered.

"It would be a big bonus if more clubs could be persuaded to move up from the Premier League, but I don't think that will happen. A league of around 12 clubs would be ideal.

"Our financial position is a big worry to me," added Louis, who has made it known that the club is available for sale if the right bidder comes along.

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