Monarchs boss says Friday fixtures are cursed with nine washouts
For Edinburgh Monarchs chairman Alex Harkness it never rains . . . it pours.
His team are facing a huge backlog of fixtures after an unprecedented run of Friday night washouts over the summer months.
The Monarchs face league leaders Somerset Rebels on Friday at Armadale Stadium, where heavy rainfall has caused nine league postponements since April – around a third of the total scheduled.
The Edinburgh riders need to take something from the meeting to qualify for the end of season play-offs.
Mr Harkness has been in charge at the Monarchs for more than 25 years and insisted the spate of call-offs was unprecedented.
“Back in the Powderhall days in the 90s, you were maybe talking about a maximum of three postponements a year,” he said.
“But obviously now, with global warming, or with climate change, whether that’s to blame or not, the number has been creeping up. It was four and then five and it’s been like that recently – but even with that growth nine is excessive.
“The thing is, every week it’s beautiful Monday to Thursday and then it hits Friday and it’s like the apocalypse, we get huge lakes forming on the track, it’s like we’re cursed or something.
“We can’t run if it’s raining, that’s the bottom line. There needs to be visibility otherwise it can be really dangerous.” The Monarchs were forced into a double header with Redcar Bears and Plymouth Devils two weeks ago in an effort to ease fixture congestion.
Under Premier League Speedway rules, fixtures must be fulfilled by Monday in order for them to have any bearing on league position.
However, last Friday the Scottish derby with rivals Glasgow Tigers was called off due to adverse conditions – the fourth time the fixture has been postponed this season. In addition to those rides and Friday’s clash with Somerset, meetings with Peterborough Panthers and Scunthorpe Scorpions also have to be rescheduled.
Mr Harkness is all too aware it has implications of postponements both on and off the track.
“Our income depends on our crowds and if there’s no crowd, then there’s no income. It’s not uncommon for us to lose a four-figure sum for every postponement,” he said.
“Speedway isn’t like football, the riders don’t get a weekly wage, they get performance-based pay and obviously if there’s no performance, there’s no pay. There’s obviously not a lot we can do about that with the rain being so heavy, but for people who are maybe living on a budget it’s far from ideal.”
Despite their misfortune, Harkness is hopeful that the club’s loyal fanbase will turn out in numbers to back the side, who can move into postseason contention with a good result.
“We’re lucky to have a really loyal fanbase who have supported us fantastically this year,” he said.
“Friday is going to be a huge night for us on and off the track; Somerset will win the league this season without a doubt so it will be a big test for us to take something from the meeting. They’re an attraction because of their form.”