Speedway: Monarchs saved by their supporters

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Edinburgh Monarchs speedway team will continue after being dramatically saved from closure by the generosity of their loyal supporters who have pledged almost £30,000 to keep the club afloat, writes DAVID KINVIG.

At a packed public meeting at Livingston Football Club last night, a huge cheer went up when co-promoter 
Alex Harkess confirmed Monarchs will be at the tapes for their 17th year of racing to reign at Armadale 
Stadium in 2013. and it was also

revealed that Armadale will be available to Monarchs for as long as they want it following a generous reduction in rent by stadium owner

Kenny Waugh.

However, Monarchs announced they will be keeping their options open just in case a move to Ingliston becomes a reality. For now, Monarchs’ proposed switch to the Royal Highland Showground remains on the back burner.

After plunging into the red this season due in part to falling attendances, there was a real fear that Monarchs’ board of directors would be forced to pull the plug on the team ending 36 years of consecutive racing which began when the sport returned to Edinburgh at Powderhall Stadium in 1977.

But supporters, who helped save Monarchs from going to the wall in 1991, were determined not to let them die again and spontaneously pledged offers of financial assistance which have humbled the Monarchs management.

In addition to the fantastic response from their fans, Monarchs have also received generous donations from former director Alan Hartley, new Workington Comets owner Laura Morgan, plus lifelong fan Brian Gray who has followed Monarchs since the 1960s.

Gray has been adopted on to the board, and he said: “It is great news that Monarchs will continue. This is day one of a new chapter in Edinburgh speedway’s history, and I think it’s incredible the optimism and positivity that’s in the air now.

“I’m proud and honoured to be part of it and even at this early stage of November I’m already looking forward to next spring – bring it on.”

Club director Mike Hunter admitted he thought Monarchs were dead three weeks ago and he has been astonished by the response supporters have shown towards the club which was founded in 1948. He said: “The money has snowballed and we have raised a significant amount to take us into 2013 with our season ticket money intact, something we haven’t done for a number of years.”

While emphasising that

Monarchs are now on a stable financial footing for life beyond 2013, Hunter added: “We

really needed a cushion to go into next season to avoid us falling into the same situation again and while this has been achieved, some cost cutting will also take place to make it really feasible.”

In another surprise gesture, Monarchs’ first aid team announced they will undertake their duties for free next season and Duddingston Private Hire boss Derek Wilkinson revealed he will now supply the supporters’ coach each week from the city without charge to the club.

Harkess said: “With all these things in place we don’t have the worries or the fear that we had, this has given us security, and to see what our supporters have done, there cannot be another club like Edinburgh in the whole of the country.

“We are keen to ensure in 2013 that we at least break even or make a profit, and not experience the losses of the past. We guarantee our admission prices will not rise in 2013 and are happy to support any fund raising ideas outwith the stadium.”

Meanwhile John Campbell, who stepped down as co-promoter last month, remains a director and will represent Monarchs at this week’s Promoters’ AGM in Coventry.

Monarchs have now turned their attention to team building and unveiled popular Hungarian star Jozsef Tabaka as their first signing for next year, it’s also likely that ex-captain Derek Sneddon will rejoin him, the racer is due a Testimonial

meeting in 2013.