Speedway: Monarchs need sponsor for swoop

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Edinburgh MONARCHS co-promoter John Campbell today reacted to rumours suggesting Ryan Fisher could be set for a shock return to Armadale next season by insisting: “We would need to find a major sponsor to make such a thing happen.”

The Californian quit Monarchs to step back up to the Elite League to skipper Coventry Bees this season, but it’s understood Fisher hasn’t found the move as lucrative as he imagined and might consider a return to Premier League racing which would give him more races.

It’s also believed that Premier League newcomers Leicester Lions have expressed an interest in Fisher. The Lions returned to speedway this year after more than a decade, but are anchored near the foot of the table. They see the colourful American as the ideal candidate to spearhead their title challenge at Beaumont Park in 2012.

Campbell, below, added: “Leicester have got crowds four or five times bigger than ours, and they would be better placed to afford him than we are.

“Ryan is a very expensive rider and has also got a very high average that makes it difficult to build a team around him, but if we found a sponsor we would consider it.”

Fisher was a hugely popular No. 1 for Monarchs in 2010 when they claimed their third championship crown, and many fans were crestfallen over his departure, but the possibility of him pulling on a Monarchs race-jacket once again would provide the Capital club with a massive shot in the arm, although Campbell points out: “Up until our matches with Glasgow our crowds were higher this season than they were the previous season when Ryan rode for us, so you can’t necessarily say that Ryan attracted bigger crowds – because he didn’t.”

Meanwhile Campbell has defended underfire heat leader Craig Cook who managed just one race win against Newport Wasps on Friday which assisted the Welshmen to pull off their first away success against Monarchs for 47 years – not that Cook was the only rider culpable.

Some home supporters were enraged at Cook and accused the Cumbrian of being disinterested, calling him to be sold. Cook had claimed in an interview prior to the meeting that he has no money to maintain his bikes and, as a consequence, is losing races he should be winning.

Said Campbell: “Craig has had a long season riding for Belle Vue and ourselves and probably needs a rest. Things are not going well for him. Craig did very well at the start of the season and I’m sure he can return to that form.”

Campbell explained that because Cook is a UK rider he has become something of a precious commodity. “I have not given up on him because I think he has loads of ability and he is British and we need to have these boys in our team as the days of having expensive foreigners in our side are gone. We need riders like Craig who has lifted his average by a significant amount and is capable of going even higher, I can’t think why we would want to get rid of him.”

It was alleged that Belle Vue, who Cook doubles up for, had made a formal offer to buy him, but Campbell said: “We have had no contact from Belle Vue, not a word, I think it was a publicity stunt on their part.”

Cook insists unless he finds major backing during the winter, he may be forced to quit the sport, but Campbell added: “Craig has not spoken to me about sponsorship and the only rider that I can recall who gave up riding while still in their prime was William Lawson.

“While it might not be fun for Craig at the moment, I believe it’s the biggest thrill in the world to ride speedway.”

Kevin Wolbert, who assumed the No. 1 mantle from Fisher, has also been the subject of speculation regarding his Monarchs future with some reports suggesting he wants to ride for Poole Pirates in the top flight on a permanent basis next season.

Wolbert doubles up for the Dorset club at present but Campbell revealed: “We have it in writing from Kevin that he wants to continue with us if he is required. I think he wants to double up again in 2012 which is not a problem. Kevin is our rider and we can have him in our side, and an Elite League team can fall by the wayside if necessary.”

Monarchs’ next home meeting is the first leg of the Scottish Cup against Glasgow Tigers on Friday week.