Top flight British speedway is in turmoil - Smillie

SPEEDWAY: Ipswich Witches general manager Mike Smillie insists that the club has made the right move at the right time to drop down to the Premier League for the 2011 season.

And fans agree with the long-term Witches official with season ticket sales the best for 20 years.

“The Elite League appears to be in turmoil,” said Smillie.

“What other professional sport would you be six weeks away from the start of the season without knowing your fixtures?

“It will be interesting to see with the Coventry and Peterborough situation which 2011 rules are stuck to and which will be evoked.

“It looks to me as though we made the move at just the right time.”

Apart from challenge meetings at home to Rye House on March 17 and the return at Hoddesdon two days later and May Bank Holiday home and away fixtures against the Rockets on May 2 Ipswich still have a blank fixture list.

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With his appetite back Smillie is anticipating going to away meetings again for the first time in three years.

Along with promoter John Louis, director of speedway Chris Louis and current team manager Pete Simmons, Smillie was involved in the decision to change track after two decades in the top flight.

“I finished my team manager duties at the end of the 2007 season and have been to one away meeting since – a challenge at King’s Lynn the following March,” explained Smillie.

“Work commitments are still a problem, but I’ve got my enthusiasm back and plan to make a few trips – possibly the double headers.

“Workington and Edinburgh look to me as though they have put together good teams, but there is every chance that we can be up there competing for honours.”

Smillie also played a leading role in assembling the team and his knowledge of statistics and the like have held the Witches in good stead for many years.

He added: “In Kevin Doolan we have a proven number one with a 9.5 average and Morten Risager looks a snip to me at just over six points.

“He’s well capable of adding to that and we all know how competitive Chris Schramm can be.

“The rest of the side are all capable of upping their averages, and the only possible problem I can see is a lack of knowledge of the newly vamped circuit at Foxhall Stadium.

“Only Chris Schramm has ridden it to any extent and we must look to get to grips with this from the word go, which is something we failed to do last season.

“The move to offer two season ticket packages has proved a hit with fans able to just buy a league package if they want.”

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