Do Sheffield Steelers fans actually want ice hockey back during the pandemic?

Tony Smith is aware that bringing back Steeler hockey is not something that every Sheffield ice hockey fan wants.

Monday, 18th January 2021, 12:00 pm
Steelers' fans pic by Dave Williams

That's not a sentence that would have made any sense 12 months ago.

But the coronavirus which brought an abrupt halt to the Elite League last March still has its deathly grip on the nation - and some supporters would rather see a total lockdown than a possible mini-tournament backed by Government money, a series which remains on the table.

"If you did a poll of our fan base whether we should start again, 50-60 per cent might say don't risk it" admitted Smith.

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Smith says that seeing football and basketball games postponed because of Covid 19 outbreaks within clubs provides a stark warning to other sports, like ice hockey.

But nonetheless, the English clubs in the EIHL are still confident they can be as Covid-secure as humanly possible, should the £4m "winter survival" cash arrive in a grant format, from the Government.

"The BBL has had some games postponed. Football is experiencing the same. Rugby has had problems" acknowledged Smith.

"Some of the considerations we have got to make are: Is it going to start? Are we going to get hit with stoppages and lost games, four games a week etc?"All of it has got to be taken into account, everything is up in the air."

Smith is more than receptive to the idea of his club's players continuing to seek employment elsewhere.

Recently, British skaters Jonathan Phillips and Davey Phillips returned back to Yorkshire after spells at EHF Passau Black Hawks (Germany) and Dunaújvárosi Acélbikák (Hungary.)

Both players would love the EIHL to resume playing in a condensed format starting in either February or March.

But if that doesn't happen, they are free to again look for work elsewhere, says Smith.

*Sheffield Steeldogs and other NIHL teams hoping to re-start play again soon, are yet to confirm what portion of the offered £1.2m from the Government is loan or grant.If the cash is in the form of a loan, any notion of a season is a non-starter.