Edinburgh Monarchs are bracing themselves for another financial loss tonight when they tackle Berwick Bandits in a fixture which was washed out last month due to heavy rain.
Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell today revealed the speedway club – who have seen crowds dip at Armadale this season despite remaining on track for another trophy treble – suffered a four-figure blow as a result of the cancellation. And, with neither team having anything to race for, Monarchs are not expecting any sort of crowd and a big financial loss. Yet again this has raised fears about their future at the Lothian Arena. Monarchs directors said that if they plunged into the red this season they would not run in 2016.
It’s understood Monarchs have lost money ever since their 2015 campaign began in April, and while the Monarchs Fans Trust have made regular donations to cover specific medical expenditures, it falls far short of the sums required to get Monarchs to the tapes next spring.
Monarchs are making no announcements yet about what might happen during the close season which is understandable given that they have two Cup Finals to think about in addition to the possibility of a Play-Off Grand Final appearance for the second year in a row as they bid to retain their league championship crown.
The Berwick meeting, which closes Monarchs’ Premier League programme, is a meaningless affair and Campbell is blunt about the impact that will have at the turnstiles.
He told the Evening News: “We lost £1000 when we had to postpone it last month and we’ll lose even more this evening. The match means nothing to us and it means nothing to Berwick and that’s why we did our best to get it on the first time.
“Although we had heavy showers in the afternoon we believed we could get the track into a rideable condition. We had managed it twice before in similar circumstances and that’s why we carried on in the hope we could do it again. But the track turned out to be much wetter than we thought and just didn’t dry out despite everyone’s best efforts.”
The Monarchs track staff worked way beyond the 7.30pm start time to try and save the match but, after discussions with both team captains, the decision was taken by the match referee to call it off.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing,” said Campbell. “Perhaps we should have taken that decision at 6pm. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but we try to get our meetings on at Armadale every Friday. On that occasion we got it wrong.”
There was much debate over whether the track was actually rideable following the extensive salvage operation, and Campbell points out: “It depends on riders’ attitude that’s what it boils down to. Craig (Cook) is never enthusiastic when there is any kind of rain and I wasn’t involved in any discussions with any of the riders that night.”
Berwick skipper Kevin Doolan felt poor visibility was the major concern, but Campbell said: “He must have used the wrong word because that certainly was not the case. Why would it be different from any other occasion, and was he suggesting at the time that dirt deflectors don’t work at all?”
The Bandits, who also have a big question mark hanging over their continued presence at Shielfield Park, will be without Richard Hall who is riding Longtrack in France and his race-jacket goes to Buxton’s Liam Carr, probably not their only change.
Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess said: “It’s a match we just have to get out of the way. But we want to do well in it, and the riders will want to do well because it affects their wages. I would like to think we’ll get a decent crowd, we’ll see, the weather will probably dominate things.”
One rider who will want to shine ahead of the play-offs is reserve Max Clegg who failed to score in Monarchs’ KO Cup semi-final second leg tie at Newcastle Diamonds last Sunday, despite finishing second in the British Under-19 championship at Berwick 24 hours earlier. “I’m sure he will get some points tonight, he just couldn’t get out of the gate at Newcastle, he’s fine,” added Harkess.