Edinburgh MONARCHS speedway chief Alex Harkess today conceded that with every day that passes, hopes of gaining a visa reprieve for stranded Australian star Sam Masters are diminishing fast.
And Masters, speaking publicly about his battle with officialdom, declared the new regulations which came into force last December “suck” and is resigned to the possibility that he will have to take an enforced break from the sport in the UK until 2014.
Masters’ visa expired in November and he must wait 12 months before applying for a new permit. It’s an unwitting trap which has now ensnared former Glasgow and now Workington Comets rider Mason Campton. However, some speedway stars have slipped through the net and been given visas – probably wrongly – but they haven’t been revoked.
Harkess told the Evening News: “There is nothing fresh to report. Our local MP, Michael Connarty, who is working on our behalf, is the only avenue we have got at the moment, but Workington are also making plenty of noise over Mason’s situation.
“It’s getting more difficult as time passes because the people who deal with these matters don’t really care – everyone is just a number.”
Harkess did admit that should Masters win his case, then Monarchs would be placed in a difficult situation having signed Dane Claus Vissing as his replacement on a contract which runs for the whole season.
“It would be our choice then, if that happened,” added Harkess.
Masters said: “I lodged an appeal which was rejected and I know Edinburgh have got an MP working to try and get something sorted out, but it’s not looking good as each new week passes.
“Monarchs promoter John Campbell has been very good about it and Claus understands the situation as well.
“I feel as though I have let Edinburgh down, but it’s not my fault and there is nothing I can do about it.
“I don’t know what to say – it’s not up to me to change the rules. They suck.”
Although Masters appears philosophical over his red tape plight, he has no intention of riding speedway purely as a hobby again.
“I want to be in Britain earning money – it costs you to ride speedway in Australia.
“I like Edinburgh as a club and was looking forward to riding for them, and also doubling up with Wolverhampton in the Elite League. I think I would have had a pretty good season this year, but it doesn’t look like happening now.”
He added: “I feel fit and have been riding well on my motocross bike, but it will have all gone to waste unless the authorities have a change of heart.
“I might have to find regular work if I can’t race and that would put me back in the real world. I have been working a little – I’ll just have to spend my time travelling and visiting my mates!”
Masters was Monarchs’ signature capture for 2013 after he was dropped by Somerset Rebels last August. “I was gutted when Somerset dropped me,” he said, “which was why I was so keen to kick-start my British career again with Edinburgh, but I have no idea what is going to happen now.”