Speedway: Monarchs commit to another season

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The almost near-certainty that the Premier League speedway fixture list will revert to a more conventional format following this year’s split-off disaster is the chief reason why Edinburgh Monarchs have decided to carry on racing at Armadale in 2012.

Confirmation that Monarchs will undertake their 16th season at the Lothian Arena gave supporters a huge lift when it was announced during Friday’s Scottish Cup tie against Glasgow Tigers.

And despite clouds hovering over Monarchs’ future due to a recent dip in attendances, co-promoter John Campbell, below, today insisted those fears did not weigh too heavily in the minds of the club’s directors in reaching their decision to continue.

He said: “We considered many things it’s fair to say but I wouldn’t say it was a close call to carry on. Had we judged matters on the crowds we have had recently, we’d have closed the doors for sure.

“But there was a general feeling that the make-up of this season’s fixture list was the downfall for us, and many other clubs as well. Little knowing at the time, we set ourselves up for a period of dull second-phase meetings.

“However at a pre-promoters AGM last week, the potential fixture list for next season was up for discussion and views were taken on what we should do for 2012. As a consequence this gave us a better reason to carry on racing, the enthusiasm of our directors also helped.

“I don’t want to go into too much detail about the exact race format because there is still a fair bit of talking still to do, but there are a number of ideas to make the 2012 programme a lot more attractive.”

“In many ways this has been a bad year for Monarchs, and had we decided not to continue, we wouldn’t have wanted to bow out on a low-key note, so we will keep going to make things better.”

In spite of some financial wobbles, Campbell revealed that attendance levels at Armadale this season were not a complete disaster, saying: “The first two-thirds of the season saw our crowds up on 2010 when we won our third league title. But when the split-off happened, and allied to our home loss against Glasgow in August, we subsequently produced five of our seven lowest crowds ever, miles lower in fact. So a good first two-thirds was overturned by a poor final third of the season, and yes we all got a bit demoralised by it all.”

On track Monarchs did not live up to expectations and this was also dispiriting. Campbell observing: “I thought the team was good enough to do a lot better than they did and it was disappointing the riders did not do as well as I believed they could.

“Every season I always say that we can go to every away track and win. But at some away tracks in the second half of the season, that belief to an extent had gone. And I have no idea how we’ll do at Plymouth, Newport, and Workington, this weekend.”

Campbell revealed that Monarchs’ agreement with Armadale owner Kenny Waugh is an open-ended one. “It’s on going providing Mr Waugh does not receive a big offer for the stadium site. And in the current financial climate this is a long way off at the moment.”

Monarchs have also applied for fresh planning permission to stage speedway at Armadale, their current agreement having expired. “We anticipate receiving that consent by the end of the year and have been encouraged by the noises we’ve had from West Lothian Council.”