Mystery potential buyer for Witches

A MYSTERY potential buyer today claimed that he could turn round the fortunes of Ipswich Evening Star Witches speedway team.The Foxhall Stadium-based Sky Sports Elite League club has lost their last ten league meetings and are destined to finish another disappointing campaign languishing in the bottom two.

By Elvin King

A MYSTERY potential buyer today claimed that he could turn round the fortunes of Ipswich Evening Star Witches speedway team.

The Foxhall Stadium-based Sky Sports Elite League club has lost their last ten league meetings and are destined to finish another disappointing campaign languishing in the bottom two.

While Ipswich were losing heavily to bottom-placed Belle Vue in a low key affair in Manchester last night, the speedway spotlight was centred on Coventry and Swindon where the two home sides were beating Poole and Peterborough respectively to earn a championship play-off final place.


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A prominent local businessman who has previous speedway experience at all levels is keen to turn the Witches into a successful team again.

He said: “I have shown an interest, but have not had a reply from the club.

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“It is very frustrating for someone who believes he can bring the good times back.

“I am prepared to work solely or in partnership with the existing promotion.”

The mystery bidder, who it is believed thinks only three of the current side should be in the team, feels Ipswich fans - who have continued to turn up for home meetings in large numbers to ensure a healthy financial position - deserve better.

He adds: “You cannot afford to be a nice person in this sport. You have to be bull terrier.”

John Louis became a local hero while riding for his home town club in the seventies and early eighties, and he has been promoting speedway at Foxhall since 1989.

Apart from a glorious treble year in 1998 only 2004 has brought any real cheer to Witches fans in recent seasons when they reached the KO Cup final and the play-off semi-final.

Gone are the days when the top riders in the sport like six-time world champion Tony Rickardsson and Polish superstar Tomasz Gollob could be attracted to Foxhall, while home grown British number one Scott Nicholls was sold to Coventry for £36,000 in 2005.

For many years there was a succession of local talent filtering through into the team. This has now dried up.

In 2003 Ipswich finished rock bottom, and this year they have failed to win a single away meeting suffering a succession of embarrassing away defeats.

To be fair their cause was not helped by the loss number one Mark Loram in March.

Louis is expected to hand over the Ipswich reins to his son Chris, a former world number three who is currently skipper and rider manager.

The 38-year-old has already been a tremendous servant to the Witches riding for them continuously for 19 seasons.

Louis junior, who is involved in media work these days regularly working for Sky Sports, has given a strong indication that he intends to carry on riding in 2008.

Whatever the problems on the track there is no denying that Ipswich is run efficiently, and they have encountered problems signing top riders who are increasingly unwilling to commit themselves to the rigours of the Elite League.

Big changes are expected to be made to the sport in this country during the winter, and it remains to be seen whether the Witches will be in a position to regain their former status.

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