Chris Louis on Witches sale: ‘But I haven’t sold the soul of the club’

Still Witches promoter, Chris Louis

Still Witches promoter, Chris Louis - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Witches promoter Chris Louis has said that although he has sold the club, fans will notice little change to their speedway nights at Foxhall.

Chris Louis and team boss Ritchie Hawkins Photo STEVE WALLER

Chris Louis and team boss Ritchie Hawkins Photo STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

It was announced this afternoon in a shock move, that BSPA Chairman and King’s Lynn owner Keith ‘Buster’ Chapman had agreed to buy Ipswich Speedway from Louis, with the Witches also moving up to the Premiership in 2019.

While most Witches fans will be happy their club is back in the top level of the sport, with a potentially bigger fixture picture than in 2018, as well as live television coverage, the selling of the club was of concern.

But Louis, who remains the promoter, says fans should not worry, and he is already looking forward – and planning a team – for 2019.

“I’ll still be there running the club,” Louis said.

Buster Chapman

Buster Chapman - Credit: Matthew Usher

“It’s different, yes. There is change in so much as I don’t own the club anymore.

“But I haven’t sold the soul of the club and I’m desperate for us to be successful. Fans needn’t worry.

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“They will notice no difference to the way it has always been in recent seasons apart from the fact we are now in the Premiership, which is great news.

“I have known Keith and Cheryl Chapman for 25 years and my family and I are delighted to be entering into this commercial arrangement with them.

“The fact Keith also owns King’s Lynn only makes it doubly more important we put them to the sword when we ride each other. I can assure you nothing has changed in my desire for us to be the top dogs of East Anglia again.

“At least we have are ‘Old Farm’ derbies back.”

The Witches dropped into the second tier of British Speedway in 2011 and while they won the Fours that year, silverware has been elusive since.

Last season they didn’t even make the play-offs in a year that finished early and left many Witches fans disgruntled.

However, with a likely almost new team and top-flight racing, those same fans could well be tempted back onside.

“Ritchie Hawkins is staying on as team manager, which is hugely important,” Louis added.

“He has always had his heart and soul in it and that is the reason I wanted him to remain in that position.

“We are already looking at team selection. There are maybe a few from this year’s team that stay. But obviously it’s going to be a stronger team as we are in the Premiership now.

“I must admit I’m really looking forward to the new season. I will be striving to put out a very competitive team.”

Chapman admitted he is excited to be working with Louis as the Suffolk side make the move back to the top division after eight seasons in the Championship.

“Chris and Julie share our passion for British Speedway and we are delighted to commercially support this great club as it transitions back to the Premiership. Chris and his team will still be running the club. We are very excited for all connected with this great club that has been running for 68 years.”

The Premiership will consist of seven teams in 2019, Belle Vue, Poole, Wolverhampton, Ipswich, Peterborough, King’s Lynn and Swindon.

Each team will ride each other home and away twice, followed by the play-offs for the top four.

BT Sport will continue to show the Premiership in 2019.