Visa wrangle scuppers Edinburgh Monarchs’ bid to sign Luke Becker

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Edinburgh Monarchs have been blocked by the British Speedway Promoters Association from signing young speedway rider Luke Becker.

The American was set to complete Monarchs’ 2018 squad but his move has been scuppered by a visa wrangle.

Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell revealed: “We had Luke signed and sealed before Christmas and set out to obtain the necessary endorsement from the BSPA to get him a visa. We knew he didn’t qualify outright for a visa, he finished fifth in the American Championship and only the top four are guaranteed a visa.

“But there is an appeals process in place and we felt Luke fell into that category.

“I launched the appeals process before Christmas and it was based on an exceptional factor which had prevented the rider from meeting the visa requirement and the fact he would enhance British speedway – these being two necessary criteria for an appeal.”

Campbell went on: “The four rounds of the American championship took place in 2017 and Luke broke his ankle in the final of the second round.

“He missed the third round but returned for the fourth round. Despite missing one full round through injury, Luke finished just five points outside the top four.

“The American Motorcycle Association wrote a letter explaining the circumstances and even multi world champion Greg Hancock wrote a glowing endorsement about Luke.

“We left no stone unturned in trying to secure an endorsement. My co-promoter Alex Harkess even phoned UK Visa and Imigration and their official confirmed that Luke’s situation fell exactly in line with BSPA procedure.”

Campbell concluded: “The matter went to the BSPA Management Committee on Wednesday for a final decision, and like every previous time we have asked for a decision, we were turned down.

“It’s never been made clear why but we must move on now. I feel very sorry for Luke and he is determined to have all the necessary qualifications in place for a visa in 2019.”

Monarchs have just eight weeks left to complete their side before their season opener against Glasgow Tigers in the Scottish Cup at Ashfield on Friday, March 23.