Edinburgh Monarchs’ No. 1 rider Craig Cook has dramatically pulled back from quitting the Premier League over their new pay structures, after being reassured by the Capital speedway club that they are confident of reaching agreement with their star scorer to return to Armadale for a third term in 2013.
Cook had threatened to ride only in the Elite League next season, claiming that competing in the lower division was no longer financially viable. The Englishman is particularly unhappy that the Premier League, in a highly controversial move, will no longer pay for bonus points scored by riders who finish third in a race behind their partner in a 3-3, unless their teammate is out on a tactical ride.
Cook feels the cost-cutting measure is “ridiculous” and said: “This has nothing to do with me not wanting to ride for Monarchs again. They rescued my career in 2011 when I was dropped by Workington and had nowhere to go. My heart now lies with Edinburgh.
“The new wage cap and pay restraints means it’s going to be tough for a lot of people, especially when you turn up for a meeting with £40,000 worth of equipment and you are not going to be paid what you are worth, yet who are still being asked to risk life and limb.
“Cutting the bonus points payment is really ridiculous and you could get teammates who will be knocking each other off. You will now be racing three people instead of two.
“The Premier League could have gone about this in a different way. Riders deserve bonus points and should not have to race their partners to get a point. Speedway is a team sport, not an individual competition.
“The maximum wage cap is understandable because the sport is going through tough times at the moment, but it’s going to be hard for riders and management to reach a happy medium when discussing terms for 2013.
“You will get riders who have shelled out £5000 for an engine and they are not going to make enough to pay for these engines.”
Cook says the doubts he harboured about continuing in the Premier League have now been removed. “Monarchs and their board of directors have told me they definitely want me back and believe they can reach a deal with me on terms, and knowing that makes me happy. I just want to get everything sorted out now.”
Monarchs, meanwhile, have re-signed Derek Sneddon and Theo Pijper, who join Jozsef Tabaka as confirmed starters for next season.