Speedway stars in mountain trek to pay for bonuses

Edinburgh Monarchs have clocked up an unbeaten run of 24 matches this season. Picture: Ron MacNeil
Edinburgh Monarchs have clocked up an unbeaten run of 24 matches this season. Picture: Ron MacNeil
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Speedway team Edinburgh Monarchs are set to scale Scotland’s highest peak to help foot the bill for a record-breaking winning streak.

The Monarchs have dominated the track this season, achieving an impressive unbeaten run of 24 matches.

But with bonus payouts soaring on the back of the success, speedway bosses have struggled to meet the cost – thought to be tens of thousands of pounds.

Riders’ wages are performance-based and with a scoreline so unprecedented, no-one ever thought they would have to budget for it.

Now a major fundraising drive is under way to ensure they club doesn’t become a victim of its own success.

A sponsored hike up Ben Nevis has been scheduled with the aim of replenishing depleted coffers by up to £10,000.

John Campbell, club co-promoter, said: “Like most businesses we set a budget each year.

“But riders are paid on performance, and this season they have had the greatest number of consecutive matches unbeaten ever, so based on their performance they have earned much more than the club had budgeted for.

“It has never happened like this.

“This is the best ever speedway record. Usually, you win at home and lose away: that’s the normal procedure. This trek was planned as something to augment admission takings but now it’s grown arms and legs. It’s now become a major fundraising event, and a more important situation.”

Edinburgh Monarchs chairman Alex Harkess denied the club had plunged into the red but said it had been an expensive season so far because of the team’s success – though this has not been reflected by the gate receipts.

He said: “Success has come at a fairly high price, and this has been the best season ever so it has been a double-edged sword. While we are not in a financial squeeze, it has been an expensive season to date and you have to keep ahead of the game.”

Mr Harkess had denied there is any doubt surrounding the club’s future but added: “We do not get enough people on a regular basis through the gate every week to survive. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t.

“That is why we have to keep working on various fundraising initiatives and will continue to do so because our outgoings are greater than our incomings on many weeks.”

Long-time Monarchs fan Geoff Craythorne was already planning the 1340-metre ascent up Ben Nevis along with a band of fellow enthusiasts.

When the Monarchs riders heard about it, they were also prepared to swap the speedway track for the Munro trail.

Captain Derek Sneddon said: “We have been scoring so many points this season, most of us anyway, that we realised we were putting a strain on the club’s coffers. If we can help swell the funds alongside Geoff, then why not.”

All seven of the team will make the climb on Saturday, August 23.

Mr Harkess added: “They really are a remarkable group of riders who get on so well together and we really appreciate their efforts. They genuinely want to contribute towards the betterment of the club.”

Sponsorship forms will be available at Armadale on Friday. It is expected that up to 100 people, including riders, officials and members of the public, will take part in the Ben Nevis trek.