Ice hockey is doing everything to contain Covid says Steelers owner

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Sheffield Steelers owner says top flight ice hockey is doing everything in their power - and more than many other sports - to protect players, fans and officials.

Tony Smith and other EIHL owners are trying to emergency plan for the next few weeks amid suggestions of new Covid-19 restrictions on the way.

Cardiff Devils have been ordered by their devolved administration to play behind closed doors for the two home games over the holiday period.

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Sheffield are awaiting some clarity and hoping their two home game on Wednesday and Boxing Day will go ahead.

Sheffield Steelers owner Tony Smith.Sheffield Steelers owner Tony Smith.
Sheffield Steelers owner Tony Smith.

Generally, they are confident their sport is being more vigilant than others.

Smith said: "We have already advised every player in the Elite League that if you are not fully vaccinated then you don't play in our league.

"Officials and part-time helpers at our club have to be fully vacc'd to come into the Arena. That is the instruction we are giving them.

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"We have gone to full Covid protocol, we are insisting masks are worn on the bench, there is no mixing of teams, before or after the game. The corridors are locked down.

"They are the same protocols as the mini series. We have gone all the way - when some other sports haven't" said Smith, who is the EIHL chairman.

"That should be reassuring to hockey fans - we are doing as much as we can."

The Star understands one player who declined vaccination was released by an EIHL club, but Smith declined to discuss the issue.

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Referring to the possibility of a lockdown, the Steelers' owner said they could cope with a couple of weeks without fans in their seats, but would still need Government assistance.

Whether that would mean player furlough remains to be seen.

Smith said cash from TV streaming had been helpful but was not hugely significant to club security.