No speedway for Ipswich Witches in 2020 as British season is cancelled

There will be no league speedway for Ipswich Witches in 2020. Picture: Steve Gardiner

There will be no league speedway for Ipswich Witches in 2020. Picture: Steve Gardiner - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Witches will not take to the track at all in 2020 following the cancellation of professional league speedway in the UK.

Ipswich Witches promoter Chris Louis is disappointed not to be taking to the track this season. Phot

Ipswich Witches promoter Chris Louis is disappointed not to be taking to the track this season. Photo: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

With the 2020 season on hold since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis in March, there had been hopes of starting the campaign in August with social distanced crowds inside stadiums. However, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement regarding fans returning to arenas in October, it will now not be possible for the season to go ahead.

There are still hopes for individual or club-organised meetings in October, but Witches promoter Chris Louis is disappointed not to be able to take to the track for the league campaign.

“There has been so much hard work going on behind the scenes to evaluate an ever-changing situation and it has ended with us not being able to operate the Premiership or Championship which is a shame,” Louis said.

“It wasn’t through any lack of effort from the BSPA but unfortunately that is how it has panned out. The situation was always a bit unclear; it was fluid and it was changing on almost an hourly basis, certainly a daily and weekly basis. It has ended in frustration, but we had to do the right thing by the supporters and by our media partners, Eurosport.”

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Louis explained that it wasn’t just one issue that had prevented the season starting despite getting close to a shortened fixture list.

“It was more than one issue, there were issues with rider availability with the proposed season being so short. There were individual stadium issues because every stadium is not only a different local authority, but each stadium is different, has different owners, has different sports in them and it is not a ‘one size fits all’ situation. It was always very complicated and at times we felt we were very close to getting both the Premiership and Championship up and running this season, but it is not to be.”

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Looking ahead to 2021, Louis is hopeful of tracking the same seven riders next season.

“It is frustrating and not least of all for Jason (Crump), he made a huge life decision to make a comeback, so to then sit for six months with ‘we’re on, we’re off, we’re on, we’re off’ and not know if he will get to ride or not has been very frustrating, probably more so than for the rest of us. Nonetheless we are all frustrated, and it is a shame. I was looking forward to that and the whole team was so exciting, watching the progression from last season of people like Jake (Allen) and Cam (Heeps) and Danny (King). He was coming back from a year out through injury and his season progressed nicely enough and he was looking forward to carrying that on this year.

“Nico (Covatti) was back and he is a fans’ favourite, always has been, always will be. There was a lot going for us this season, Nicolai (Klindt) obviously we were looking to him to be a consistent points scorer for us and there was the excitement for young Drew (Kemp), the local lad. There were so many aspects to what was going to make this season exciting at Ipswich, but I hope it is going to be seen. Nothing has been said yet as to whether we will have the same teams or not next season, we will have to wait and see on that one but if that is the case, I thoroughly look forward to working with them in 2021.”

Some Witches riders have been in action over the past few months, with Nicolai Klindt racing in Poland and Nico Covatti in Italy and Louis is encouraging all of the team to ride wherever possible in the upcoming months with the hope of some meetings in Britain in October.

“They will all be having a ride, but racing is different, racing is what you need. Nobody wants to take a full 12 months out of the racing saddle which will be the case for some riders at some clubs. The lads are all working hard to get some racing in where they can and subject to approval we could see some racing in October and I will certainly be encouraging all of our team members to get whatever meeting they can get just to keep in the saddle.”

Addressing Witches season ticket holders, Louis confirmed those who have purchased will have the choice of retaining their 2020 season ticket for the 2021 season or they will be able to be fully refunded.

“As a club our season ticket holders are paramount in our thoughts, we will be making the offer to retain their season ticket for 2021 that they bought for 2020. If they do not want to do that, we will be making full refunds. Hopefully, we will retain a great deal of those, and we will welcome them back in 2021.”

The former world number three is hoping that news on the 2021 season will be revealed before the end of the year.

“Discussions have already started and once they conclude, and I expect that to happen way before Christmas, we will know exactly what our team will look like for 2021. As I said, it is proposed that we will have the same teams and I would be very happy to work with the team we put in place.”

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