Speedway: Monarchs boss dismisses league merger

Alex Harkess believes teams will be sensible. Pic: Ron MacNeill
Alex Harkess believes teams will be sensible. Pic: Ron MacNeill
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EDINBURGH MONARCHS boss Alex Harkess today dismissed rumours that there would be an amalgamation between the Elite League speedway teams and those from lower division.

Harkess, who is chairman of the British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA), also revealed that he is optimistic the majority of Premier League teams will come to the tapes in 2014.

The BSPA begin their annual conference later this week and while some Elite League outfits are demanding changes to the structure, Harkess thinks the Premier League will carry on without any major upheaval.

He said: “I would like to think that the Premier League will remain unchanged and, as far as Edinburgh are concerned, we’d be happy to stay as we are. Our league is at a level that most of us can afford and delivers a product that by and large provides entertaining speedway for many supporters.”

Harkess hinted the only doubt surrounds a possible switch by Leicester Lions to the top flight. The Lions made an application to join the upper tier last season, but were turned down and told to re-apply this year.

Harkess said: “Leicester have hinted they would like to move up, but they are the only Premier League club who have stated a preference to race in the Elite League.”

The Monarchs chief also allayed fears over the participation of Premier League neighbours Berwick and Glasgow for next season, stating: “Both of these clubs have asked about speaking to certain Edinburgh riders, which suggests they’ll be running in 2014 and there is nothing to think differently.”

Monarchs have firm thoughts over the changes they want to make to their squad, as Harkess revealed. “We have got ideas in our mind, but none of our riders are going anywhere until we sort ourselves out.”

Monarchs’ first priority will be to strike a new deal with their No.1 Craig Cook, though the Cumbrian’s double-digit average will take a huge chunk out of their overall 42.05 team building points limit.

“That is a concern,” admitted Harkess, “but we are not going to exclude Craig from our team, no chance. We will have to make up for his inclusion elsewhere, which almost certainly means we will have to track two three-point riders at reserve.”

Monarchs are holding an ‘Evening with Craig Cook’ event at Broughton Rugby Club, Granton Road, on Friday, November 29 (7.30pm). Tickets are strictly limited to 75 and are priced £10, with all proceeds going towards the team’s air fence fund. It is hoped Cook will sign a new contract on the night.