Tycoon Ragan almost walked out of sport

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PAUL RAGAN has revealed that he has considered walking out of ice hockey.

The tycoon had his fingers burned after the recent crash of his ‘Rink Corp’ company, which ran Sheffield Steelers and Cardiff Devils.

In the aftermath, accusations were fired at him by former owner Bob Phillips, which Ragan now claims amount to a defamation of his character.

The Star asked Ragan, who bought Steelers in the New Year and retains a 49 per cent stake, if his experiences had shaken his love of hockey.

He replied: “No, but it’s been emotionally tough for me; I considered walking out on more than one occasion. There have been many untruths printed, but I have remained professional at all times. People forget, I rescued two clubs last season, at my own cost.

“I did everything in good faith and committed a significant amount of time to the clubs’ prosperity. We have an exciting season ahead and I hope both clubs can move forward. I’ve learned a lot over 15 months and I’m excited about putting this to good use. Tony Smith (main Steelers shareholder) and I will be building much stronger clubs for the long term, whilst maintaining a strong commitment to both communities and the growth of hockey.”

Meanwhile, Steelers will welcome back Canadian heavyweight Dennis Vial for the August 27 Festival of Hockey. Vial, who captained Steelers’ 2001 Grand Slam side, left angry at the club as it lurched into an earlier financial crisis, but has now mended fences. “They were very stressful times” said Vial. “There were off-ice problems but now I can only remember the good times, the wins, the trophies and then fantastic fans.”

n Some good financial news for Steelers has come from G-Casino of Sheffield, major sponsors for next season. “We love our involvement with Steelers,” says G-Casino’s Jon Thomas.