Edinburgh Monarchs star Josh Pickering today blasted the current Championship League format, claiming: “It is not fair.”
Pickering, who makes his return to action against Newcastle Diamonds in the first leg of the KO Cup semi-final at Armadale, feels there is not enough fixtures and has questioned whether the long trip from his Australian home to the UK is worthwhile any more.
Pickering said: “We only race once away from home this year and that is not ideal. I’m coming all the way over from Australia to find the league programme cut in half.
“On the money side, the more matches you ride, the more you earn. I have forked out a lot of money to come over every year, it’s not very fair, it’s rubbish in my opinion.”
When Pickering made his UK racing debut for Monarchs back in 2017, every club raced each other twice at home and twice away, but the British Promoters Association have revamped the league programme since then to its current status, one reason being to cut down costs.
And with Pickering unable to find a Premiership club to double-up with this season – which he had hoped for – he is being hit hard in the pocket after being sidelined for over five weeks with a troublesome shoulder injury.
Pickering initially made his comeback from injury against Redcar Bears at Armadale three weeks ago, but it ended in disaster when he crashed in his first outing. He said: “It’s all systems go now. I did a few laps at the track over the weekend and everything went well.
“When I came back against Redcar, I did more damage to my shoulder. I had a trapped nerve anyway and thought I had pulled it. I had pain right down my arm which sapped my strength – that is all settled now.”
Pickering has had ample time to evaluate how Monarchs are performing and he said: “I’m not going to say Monarchs have been lost without me, but we have been lacking in the third-heat leader position and we are also losing some extra points from the reserve positions at home with Luke (Ruddick) out, but Connor Coles is doing a fine job as replacement.
“I think I can pick up where I left off from without too much trouble.”
With Monarchs play-off hopes looking slim, the cup may be their best bet of picking up some silverware in 2019 and Pickering added: “I think both matches against Newcastle will be nailbiting affairs and there are inconsistencies among both teams, but I think we are the stronger side and will go through on aggregate.”