Eastbourne’s hopes of European glory are dashed

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EASTBOURNE’S hopes of European glory have been dashed before even a wheel has been turned on the 2012 season.

The shock news that the planned “European Cup” competition was still born – at least for 2012 – has left Eagles fans bemused.

They were due to face Swedish side Indianerra and Danish outfit Slangerup in the group stages of the competition.

Home and away fixtures had been published, with some Eastbourne fans already making plans to travel to the away legs.

It was not immediately clear as to what had happened. The Eastbourne club spoke of an “insurmountable difficulty” and emphasised the cancellation of the competition was outside its control. I understand that part of the difficulty may be around “ownership” of the competition and that the FIM has not sanctioned it for 2012; although agreement may be reached for 2013.

That will be of little consolation to Eastbourne and their fans, unless the club can again finish in the top two of this year’s Elite League.

What makes the decision even more galling is that the Eagles gave up the opportunity of taking part in this year’s domestic KO Cup competition so they could compete in Europe. And it is a double blow, especially to those who like cup ties, because it is now too late for Eastbourne to be reinstated into the KO Cup as the draw has been made.

King’s Lynn, for reasons of their own, withdrew from the cup along with Eastbourne, leaving just eight clubs in the competition – making for a straight-forward draw.

My first thought when I heard the news that the European fixtures had been deleted was that Eastbourne had been well and truly stitched up over this. The Arlington outfit are never the most popular of tracks [there’s a bit of No-one likes us, we don’t care ©Millwall fans from the 1970s] and this I saw as revenge but quite from who I’m not sure.

But on reflection, that is perhaps unfair.

The other British team to be out of Europe without racing a heat are the blue-eyed boys from along the south coast, Poole. And, many British fans would agree with me that it does seem that what Poole wants, Poole gets – but not on this occasion.

We, it seems, stand shoulder-to-shoulder on this one with our fiercest rivals who have dashed our hopes of glory more than once.

Meanwhile, the Eagles’ on-track season is less than a month away. Lukas Dryml and new Russian signing Denis Gizatullin are set to be in the country in the week leading up to Press and Practice Day on March 17. Dryml has declared himself fit after recovering from a broken leg but needs track time to build up race fitness while Gizatullin is keen to weigh up the quickest lines around the tight Arlington circuit and to find the correct set-ups for the bikes. Watch this space.