MIDDLO: BRING BACK THE BIG BOYS
Thursday 13th September 2012, 17:37
Poole and Team Great Britain boss Neil Middleditch has called on Elite League promoters to let clubs sign two No.1s in 2013 and allow SGP riders to job share in the UK.
Just six of the 15 permanent Grand Prix riders have appeared in the British top flight this year and Middleditch fears his top Pirates, Chris Holder and Darcy Ward, could follow their rivals out of the Elite League. Both have expressed their concerns about the number of fixtures on the British calendar.
While Swedish Elitserien sides race 14 regular-season meetings and Polish Ekstraliga clubs compete in 18, Elite clubs run 28 meetings, plus play-offs, Knockout Cup and challenge matches.
Middleditch feels teams should be allowed to sign squads or at least a second No.1, as he hopes to see the world’s greatest riders race regularly in the UK.
"Chris and Darcy have both spoken to some of the boys on the continent and theyâ€™ve intimated they may want to come back to Elite League racing if they can do 20 meetings."
- Neil Middleditch
He said: “I think there is a big shout to change things, have two No.1s in a team and split up the meetings.
“The schedule these boys keep is absolutely phenomenal, particularly if you’ve got the Grand Prix involved. You have Britain, Sweden, Poland and some of the boys have Denmark as well.
“It’s so draining on the body and if you could have two No.1s and split it up a bit – perhaps 20 meetings each – Chris and Darcy have both spoken to some of the boys on the continent and they’ve intimated they may want to come back to Elite League racing if they can do 20 meetings.
“Traditionally, some of them would come over and do the meetings before the Grand Prix started and then disappear. If they could break it down over a season, who knows?
"The Elite League has been getting a bit diluted over the last few years. We’re running out of big names.
“If you look at the Swedish and Polish leagues, you look at the teams and it makes you think. Maybe there is a call for it and it’s something that needs to be bounced around.”
There is no doubt Poole would suffer if riders like Holder and Ward opted to give the Elite League a miss.
But Middleditch said: “Let’s put Poole out of the argument and look at the bigger picture of Elite League speedway. That’s what we are concerned about. It’s about the bigger picture and what’s good for British speedway. We want to see the best riders in the world and, at the moment, we really aren’t.
"Are we ever going to see Mikkel B Jensen back in the Elite League? Will Martin Vaculik come here? Not at the moment I don’t think.”
Middleditch is reluctant to see Holder and Ward end their famous partnership, despite them averaging a huge 9.57 and 9.49 respectively. He feels the pair known as the Turbo Twins will continue to pull crowds wherever they go.
He said: “We don’t want to split Chris and Darcy up if we can help it, but their averages are going to be big.
“I don’t want to lose either of them – it goes without saying. They are what the thousands of people who turn up at Poole on a Wednesday come to see. We put bums on seats at other tracks too. People hear about the Pirates and we are the team people want to beat.”
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