NEWS Wednesday 31st January 2018, 8:30pm
The Monarchs have been hit by a bitter blow as they try to complete their line up for the 2018 season. Exciting young American Luke Becker was the man selected to fill the final position in the team but a major obstacle has brought that to a halt.
Explained co-promoter John Campbell. "We had Luke signed and sealed before Christmas and then set out to get the necessary endorsement from the BSPA to get him a visa. We knew that 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 appeal process in place and we felt that Luke fell exactly in line with the necessary criteria within that process."
Campbell continued, "I launched the appeal before Christmas. It was based on an exceptional factor that had prevented the rider from meeting the visa requirement and the fact that he would enhance British Speedway, these being two necessary criteria for an appeal."
"The American Championship took place over four rounds in 2017 and Luke broke his ankle in the final of the second round, missing the third round before managing to return for the fourth round. In this third round if he had scored the same as the average points he scored over the three rounds he did contest then he would have finished third. As it happened, despite missing one full round through injury, Luke finished just five points outside the top four."
"The American Motorcycle Association wrote explaining the circumstances and multi World Champion Greg Hancock wrote a glowing endorsement. Looking back to last year when Luke had a tremendous ride in the World Cup, commentators Nigel Pearson and Kelvin Tatum even said how much this young man would enhance British Speedway."
"As we attempted to leave no stone unturned in trying to get the endorsement, my co-promoter Alex even phoned UK Visa and Immigration and their official confirmed that Luke's situation seemed to fall exactly in line with the BSPA procedure, fulfilling both of the criteria for a discretionary endorsement."
Finally Campbell concluded, "The matter went to the BSPA Management Committee yesterday for a final decision and, like every previous time we've asked for a decision, we were turned down. It's never been clear why but now we must move on. I feel very sorry for Luke but he's determined to ensure that he has all the necessary qualifications for a visa in 2019."
With many avenues now being explored, Monarchs have eight weeks to fill the final place in their team before the first match of the season at Glasgow on 23rd March.