Speedway: Ex-promoter vows to help ailing club in any way he can

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John CAMPBELL insists he has no regrets about revoking his promoters’ licence after 29 years at Edinburgh Monarchs.

The speedway outfit are currently fighting to stay afloat amid outstanding debts amassed this season at Armadale which now threaten their future in the sport.

More than a week has elapsed since Campbell stunned Scottish speedway by stepping down from his high-profile role in charge of the Capital team, but the Dalkeith based accountant insists he will not reverse his decision as long as Monarchs remain at the Lothian Arena.

In an exclusive interview with the Evening News, Campbell – who remains on the Monarchs board – said: “My only concern right now is helping those people who want the club to carry on. What develops after that we’ll have to wait and see.

“We are significant sums away, in my mind, to operate at Armadale in 2013, so the question of me changing my mind is not even a consideration. There are lots of things going on at the moment and, if some of them fall into place, then everything could be okay.

“Equally, if they fall by the wayside, we’d be nowhere, and with a timescale of just three weeks to decide if we are running or not, we are up against it.”

If Monarchs do overcome their current predicament, pertinent questions have already been asked about who would take on Campbell’s workload on race days.

He added: “I’m not a ‘superman’ and can definitely be 
replaced, obviously I have done a lot of things over a considerable period of time, but I would have to be awfully big-headed to believe I’m irreplaceable.

“The tasks I do are perfectly capable of being done by somebody else.”

Campbell has kept his fellow directors at arm’s length to some degree but vowed he would never simply turn his back on Monarchs and leave any new incumbents to get on with it if, indeed, he sticks to his guns about quitting.

“I would find it very difficult to be at Armadale and not be involved because I’d be wondering about what would be going on there,” he said. “But there are two main concerns for me, one is the weather and the 
other is the financing of the club.

“There is not a lot anyone can do about the weather, but I could not go through another season of the financial pressure which has just gone. We are attempting to clear the debt to give us a fresh start in 2013, and I’ve made my position clear that I have promoted my last meeting at Armadale.

“However, if another venue becomes available, I’ll be there. I would not just walk away from Monarchs leaving people to cope with insurmountable problems, I would not do that.”

Asked what his response would be if he was requested to stay on, Campbell replied: “Let’s just wait and see if we get the funding we need in place. I’m helping to try and make that possible.”

Monarchs have always been a club renowned for paying their bills and riders on time, but it’s understood a couple of directors had to dig into their own pockets earlier this season to fund payment of some riders’ wages, which had been delayed.

Campbell said: “I wouldn’t say anybody would have any concern about outstanding bills that we cannot pay, it is not a problem at the moment, but could become one.”

It is hard to believe that Campbell might be looking forward to spending more time at his local cinema on a Friday night instead of opening up the gates at Armadale, but he revealed: “It is so depressing to get up on a Friday and see that it is raining, which was the case so often this season, and knowing after a morning and night at the stadium I’d have to clean my shoes again.

“It was also worrying that no matter how well the team did this year, and they did well, people just would not come to watch. To get to the play-offs and Cup semi-final and see the crowds go down, what happens in 2013?

“We might have a very average team – does this mean the crowds would fall even lower? We have got to believe that the weather would be as bad as it has been this year, there is no other evidence to suggest otherwise. All the calculations have to be based on the fact that we will have another rotten 
summer.”

The argument for staying at Armadale as opposed to possibly taking a year out until a possible relocation to the Royal Highland Showground at Ingliston is settled one way or the other, is one which carries favour with some, but not all.

Campbell said: “Big refurbishment is required at Armadale, a number of things need to be done. The long-term future for Armadale, no matter who owns it or refurbishes it, is not as good as looking for a venue closer to Edinburgh.”

When Campbell announced his resignation in this newspaper last Friday, he maintained that if his fellow directors could get themselves organised they could take the club forward. In stating this, was he inferring he doesn’t think this will happen? “No,” he replied, “because I do not believe there is any task in the stadium that cannot be undertaken by someone else. I arrive at Armadale around 4.30pm on match nights, but no-one else does that, however it is not beyond anybody else to turn up earlier.

“But people have to be put in place to do that and there has been no talk about that at all yet. I probably spend 15 hours a week on speedway and I’m certainly not going to hide any knowledge I have.

“If younger people got involved they might have a better idea of how things should be done.”