Eagle Johnson forced out

Brendan Johnson

Brendan Johnson

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Eastbourne Eagles Speedway admitted they made a huge mistake when it came to building their first National League team.

And it was an error that led to the Eagles releasing Brendan Johnson, a rider they signed and then kicked-out before the season had started.

The club came under heavy fire this week on social media for their treatment of Johnson.

The Eagles were accused of a ‘total lack of respect’ towards Johnson who joined the Eagles last month and was all set for a season at Arlington competing in the National League.

However, even before a wheel touched the shale Johnson was forced out as the Eagles received wrong information on another riders’ average.

Chairman Martin Dugard responded, “We received what we thought was reliable verbal advice that a rider we have yet to announce would come in on a three-point average.

“That has proved not to be the case and he will start on an assessed five-point average.

“It was our mistake but what I would say is that we are not the first club to be in such a position.”

The mystery rider is rumoured to be New Zealand ace Bradley Wilson-Dean. He is a an under-21 National Champion and is tipped for success in his first National League season.

Eastbourne have been tracking Wilson-Dean for a number of years and was their number-one target.

Duggard added, “As soon as it was realised that we would not be in the Elite League this year the ball started rolling to sign this rider. We have built our team around him.

“He will become an Eastbourne asset and we believe his signing is a game-changer as far as the Eagles are concerned.

“I have to make decisions that I believe are in the best interests of the club.

“We couldn’t accommodate both and my decision was to release Brendan.

“This is a standalone business. For speedway to continue in the longer term at Arlington, our National League team must be a success both on and off the track.

“That means tough decisions must be made and I will not shy away from making them.”

The Sixth name on the roster for Eastbourne Eagles’ National League team is Richard Andrews. Andrews, 22, rode last season for the Devon Demons (at Plymouth) in a career that began in 2009 at Newport.

He said, “I am absolutely pumped about coming to Eastbourne. I can’t wait for it. It will be good. This should be a major step up for me.”

Andrews was named by the Speedway Star as the Rider of the Year last season for Devon Demons.

Eastbourne’s home fixtures begin on Good Friday with a local derby in the National Trophy against Kent.