All systems go as the Edinburgh Monarchs aim to secure long-term future with new stadium

Pulses are racing after the Edinburgh Monarchs unveiled plans for a new stadium in Livingston with the tapes due to go up next spring.

By Neil McGlade
Thursday, 30th June 2022, 7:55 am

The Capital club announced yesterday their intention to relocate from their current Armadale circuit after a fantastic 25 years of competitive speedway racing which has delivered no less than five league titles during its time - the most successful era in the club's 74-year history.

And while those memories of the 'Dale' will always be dear to the hearts of riders - past and present - directors and supporters, the club are moving mountains to secure its long-term future in British speedway.

The mouth-watering prospect of the 1,500-seated West Lothian Community Stadium, set to be built within Deans Industrial Estate, and just a stone's throw from the M8, has shifted the mood of the Monarchs community, who last month feared the worst upon learning that the current landlord at Armadale intends to sell up at the end of the year, a move that would leave both the short - and long-term future of the club - hanging by a thread.

The new 1,500-seated stand at the West Lothian Community Stadium will provide spectacular viewing. Picture: Edinburgh Monarchs.

However, Monarchs development director Gordon Campbell revealed that although these grand plans would appear to have been borne out of the imminent sale of Armadale, this is in fact a project that has been in the pipeline for quite some time.

Prospective buyers of the vacant site at Deans must submit their proposals to West Lothian Council no later than July 28 and, providing the Monarchs emerge as successful candidates, Gordon is confident the club can work within the allocated timeframe to keep those engines revving next season.

"This has been an ambition of the club for many years but, personally, I've been working at it, to an extent, for the last five or six years," Campbell explained to the Evening News. "We've been speaking to the council regularly for the last couple of years. But when it came to light that there was no future at Armadale earlier this year, that's when things really accelerated.

"That said when we announced last month that this would be the last season at the current track, we still weren't at a point where we could reveal plans for the new stadium. There were still a few things that had to fall into place and that only happened about two weeks ago.

Edinburgh Monarchs development director Gordon Campbell is confident the club will have a new home in Livingston next season. Picture: Jack Cupido

"At the outset of this project one of our key drivers is that we want to secure that certainty and future of the club. It has been an issue at Armadale from year to year with us not owning the stadium and the threat of finding ourselves homeless. The investment hasn't been there and that has hampered us. There have been a lot of good things on track but the stadium has always, to an extent, held us back. So, one of the big things with this is we will have that security.

"There are examples in speedway of a timeline that fits in with what we're looking at. The Redcar Bears, for example, started in early January in the year they built their new stadium and they were up and running by the end of March and they went for a blank canvas similar to what we will be doing here."

It is estimated that the cost to secure the site and approved planning permission, as well as the installation of a track fit for purpose is somewhere in the region of £500,000, money Monarchs already have in the bank.

Campbell continued: "With it being a phased approach to the development, at the moment we have covered the absolute minimum needed to run speedway at the new stadium next year. It perhaps wouldn't involve purchasing the site outright but would be through a lease option to reduce the initial capital.

Edinburgh Monarchs duo Kye Thomson, right, and Jacob Hook, spoke to the media about their excitement for the future. Picture Jack Cupido.

"We want to build the best facility we can for ourselves and the community. The closing date for this site is July 28 so bids and offers must be in by then. There is a process through the council where they select their bidder and that is ratified, so all of that will happen in the next couple of months.

"Through word of mouth there is competition for the site but we believe we have a strong case. Our search of the local area has identified this site, but that's not to say there aren't any other sites out there. However, this is the perfect site for the club's ambitions. We've put forward our case clearly that to retain the Monarchs in West Lothian it must be on this site and in the timeframe specified.

"We've looked at what the likes of Edinburgh Rugby achieved with regards to flexible infrastructure so we can look at similar options, but our main focus is building the seated grandstand when funds permit.

"In terms of the track it will be 260 metres which is the same as Armadale but it is quite different in how it is laid out. It's slightly shorter end to end to give it a more circular, flowing shape and in modern speedway width is critical factor for good racing."

Monarchs heat leader Kye Thomson was more than complimentary about the club's vision for the future.

"It looks awesome," the 23-year-old Australian said. "I've just got to hope I'm in the team next year now! It's great to see the club making all the right moves to secure its long-term future. And to have a home stadium like that would just be incredible."