Edinburgh Monarchs’ season to be 28 races

At the gate: Monarchs chiefs, John Campbell (right) and Alex Harkess (left) below, have agreed an extension. Jozsef Tabaka also pictured.
At the gate: Monarchs chiefs, John Campbell (right) and Alex Harkess (left) below, have agreed an extension. Jozsef Tabaka also pictured.
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Edinburgh Monarchs will face a marathon Premier League programme of 28 matches in 2014 after promoters’ voted to extend the speedway calendar to aid those teams who fail to make the play-offs.

Monarchs will now tackle three of their rivals twice. The extra opposition will be decided by a selection process and the additional meetings added to the fixture list in due course.

Monarchs co-boss John Campbell said: “At least six teams last season saw their campaign over by August after failing to make the play-offs and the general feeling was the majority of them did not have enough matches. The season will now run into September even for sides who are not involved in contesting the championship.”

Campbell also dismissed fears over fitting everything in to what could be an overcrowded campaign which also includes the League and Knockout Cup competitions. The League Cup too, has been extended with four teams in the qualifying sections instead of three. Monarchs face Glasgow, Berwick and Workington in the northern group.

“Those teams who want to be successful, like ourselves, will make arrangements to make sure it happens,” said Campbell,” We have 33 Friday’s available between the start and end of the season and this should be enough.”

Monarchs are now in the process of trying to shape their team-building plans but Campbell admitted the fitness surrounding Jozsef Tabaka, who broke his leg against Somerset Rebels last month, has become a matter of concern and the popular Hungarian is by no means guaranteed to line-up for the club next March.

Campbell said: “I have not offered anybody a contract yet because we are very wary of the situation with Jozsef, but we should have a better idea next month of how his recovery is progressing. We certainly won’t be announcing our seven riders until late December or early January.”

Campbell also poured cold water on rumours linking Sam Masters with Scunthorpe Scorpions. Masters was stopped from signing for Monarchs last season after a visa row, but he is tipped to make his Monarchs debut next season. “I doubt he has joined Scunthorpe, I have kept in contact with Sam during the winter and know what his position is, and we’ll wait and see how things develop”, added Campbell.

Monarchs co-boss Alex Harkess was re-elected British Speedway Promoters’ Association chairman for a fifth term at their annual conference in Coventry and the club were also named Premier League ‘Track of the Year’ by the country’s top referees.

Campbell said: “I had no inkling the award was coming our way, but the referees will have seen a smooth surface at Armadale every week and rhe ability of everybody to get round, and that does not happen at every other track.”

Monarchs have been given a bye in the first round of the KO Cup and face Berwick Bandits or Sheffield Tigers in the quarter-finals.