Edinburgh Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell today said he hopes to unveil his full seven-man line-up for next season at the Capital speedway club’s annual winter video show at the Thomas Morton Hall, Ferry Road, on Saturday (7.30pm).
But speculation is mounting that German No. 1 Kevin Wolbert will not be returning to Armadale in 2012 because of a desire to ride in Poland.
Wolbert, who is expected to ride full-time for Elite League champions Poole Pirates after a doubling-up stint for them last season, has reportedly made it clear to sources down south, he won’t be riding for Monarchs again. Campbell insists: “Kevin is available to us if we want him.” But he added: “He has been talking about racing in Poland and we have to decide if that is a worthwhile proposition, because that has previously brought about confrontation. Kevin has still to confirm if he has secured a berth with a Polish team or not.”
Campbell also refused to be drawn on Wolbert’s possible link-up with the Pirates, saying: “I don’t pick the Poole team but their promoter Matt Ford asked for permission to speak to Kevin and this was granted some weeks ago.”
Asked if Monarchs have a contingency plan should Wolbert be erased from their roster, Campbell replied: “We know exactly what we want to do with our team in 2012, so yes we do.”
Monarchs’ main priority is to sort out their troublesome reserve positions which cost them so dearly last season and speculation abounds that former Armadale track record holder Theo Pijper, who was part of Glasgow Tigers’ championship winning squad last season, will be recalled to wear the blue and gold race jacket again to beef things up at the tail-end.
The 31-year-old Dutchman now has two league-winning medals, his first with Monarchs in 2003. However Campbell, who tends to plays his cards close to his chest, would only say: “We are keen not to have a non-scoring reserve again and we are trying to eliminate that, so we are going for someone who is more experienced and will score a few points for us. We have looked at all our assets, and Theo is one of them.”
What is certain is that former skipper Derek Sneddon will return to Armadale for the first time since he led Monarchs to league glory in 2008 before he was harshly jettisoned in 2009. It’s understood the Falkirk-based rider, who has spent the last three years with Newcastle Diamonds, finalised a two-year deal a fortnight ago. And, with Andrew Tully and present captain Matthew Wethers also pencilled in, supporters seeking radical changes, will be disappointed.
Having finished eleventh last season, Campbell is only too well aware that Monarchs dropped below their usual high standards, and is keen that they regain their focus next spring.
He said: “I thought we had a good enough team to have won the league again, but as I said a few times, our team didn’t perform to their best on the night and Kalle (Katajisto) dropping two points off his average was disappointing. I’ve made offers to the riders we want in the team, and if they all say yes, I’ll be more than happy in the belief that we will track a competitive side next season.”