Bob Dugard today insisted he is optimistic he can plot a rescue formula for Eastbourne Eagles.

But the long-time promoter and former rider admits he cannot be 100 per cent certain the club will be riding in 2008.

Dugard has taken over the running of the club after the departure of Bob Brimson, who quit after suffering six-figure losses in his debut season in charge.

Martin Hagon, Dugard's son-in-law and former speedway rider and European grasstrack champion, is likely to be named as Brimson's successor.

Hagon's company, which manufactures shock absorbers for motor bikes, already backs several riders, including Lee Richardson and Edward Kennett.

Dugard and Hagon have already pencilled in the team they expect to track in 2008 and it does not include Nicki Pedersen.

They expect the average limit next year to be 38.46 points and, if that goes through, believe they cannot fit the new world champion in if they want to be competitive down the order.

Instead they will ask Davey Watt to lead an exciting young team which is likely to include Lewis Bridger, Cameron Woodward and Simon Gustafsson. They also want to bring back Kennett from a loan spell at Poole.

Dugard insists he and his family do not have time to run Eagles due to commitments at their successful machine tool business in Hove.

But they will support the club financially if other Sussex businesses can be found who will do likewise, albeit to a lesser extent.

Dugard, who has been connected to the Eagles for almost 50 years and is considered the Godfather figure of Eastbourne speedway, said: "Martin Hagon is up for it but there is a very serious proviso.

"I've given him a month to check it all out and see if he can find some serious backing from Sussex businesses.

"We've got a £20million a year business to run. We can't spend any more time towards the speedway.

"Financially we will help out. We always have done.

"(Existing sponsors) Meridian Marquees have pledged the same sum of money as last year and that's a really good start.

"If we can get a couple more of them then I think we can say it's safe."

Meridian's backing is believed to amount to about £20,000.

Dugard, 65, says he owns riding assets worth about £100,000.

He added: "I have given those assets over for Martin to use. That's our input.

"Martin has got everything in his favour providing he gets some local support and the crowds come back.

"I'm positive it will happen. I just hope to God some local businesses feel the same way as we do."

Dugard's track record suggests he will not be afraid to close Eagles down if he feels they are no longer viable.

He pulled the club out of the league in 1990, though they later re-surfaced after an amalgamation with Wimbledon. He also pulled the plug on White City in 1978.

But his general demeanour, and the fact he and Hagon have already picked their team for 2008, suggests they are very confident Eagles will pull through.

Any decision to leave out Pedersen would bitterly disappoint many fans but Dugard says he has an exciting 1-7 taking shape.

He insists a combination of a tight points limit and the Dane's busy schedule would make it unworkable to bring him back.

Dugard said: "Nicki is a big favourite but I think the sort of team we will be presenting will have more of an attraction than that.

"By having Nicki you can't do too much with your bottom end. With this new set of averages you would be looking at four riders who are 5.00 and lower.

"Numerous times this year Nicki got a maximum and we still lost.

"At the end of the day the public only want to win."

Eagles continued to pull in crowds around the 1,000 mark last season, even when they were struggling.

But Dugard insists that is not enough and has set his sights on 1,500 fans per match, a figure which was only met when Poole visited.

He said: "We were getting four figures but if you are 500 down at £15 a head you don't need to do that for many meetings to be a long way behind.

"We used to get 3,000 people for second division racing in the Seventies. Alright, it's an expensive day out for people but it's the same price throughout the country. I would imagine people down here have got far money to spend than at King's Lynn and places like that.

"King's Lynn is £14 and it's second division racing.

"We need local businesses involved and there are a couple of people we have in mind."

Eagles will continue to race on Saturday nights, even though that will mean at least two direct clashes with televised Grands Prix.

Hagon and Martin Dugard will be asked to bring the famed junior track up to date, working to a five-year plan that will hopefully see Eastbourne producing quality Elite League riders.

Dugard rates the signing of Woodward as an Eagles asset as one of Brimson's shrewd moves.

But the Arlington supremo is convinced Brimson should have been far quicker to sign replacements for David Norris and Dean Barker when they were injured.

Dugard said: "Our crowds virtually halved in the back end of the season, hence our massive losses."

Are Bob Dugard and Martin Hagon the men to get Eagles flying again? And is Dugard right about Nicki Pedersen? Add your comment below