Sheffield Steelers may start season in Italy

Fate could conspire that Sheffield Steelers have to start their season 1,000 miles away in Italy!

The start-date for the 2020-21 campaign has yet to be determined and all options were discussed at a meeting of the club's management last Thursday.So far, there is no specific timeframe for the EIHL club and their league partners to hang their hat on.In the worst case scenario - and social distancing continues towards late December and the New Year – it is possible the whole campaign will have to be scrapped.It was initially envisaged that the DEL division in Germany, for instance, would start on September 18, but now that has been put back until November.In the UK, the EIHL wanted to launch the season with a "Magic 5" competition at Nottingham Panthers' rink in September.But if social distancing remains in place, it is hard to see how any EIHL club can afford to play when such safety requirements apply.The Sheffield meeting discussed all such options - including an undisclosed deadline in which it would be too late to start.Steelers are scheduled to make a trip to Asiago in Italy for round two of the 2021 IIHF Continental Cup on November 13-15.That could still happen - in fact it could be the de facto training camp for the rest of the campaign.Aaron Fox's men are due to play the host team Asiago Hockey and two other teams.It might not sound an ideal to start the season - taking on European opposition without any domestic games under the team's belt.But it is certainly better than not starting at all.Steelers, the Challenge Cup winners, are desperate to pick up where they left off.And the fans are clearly behind them. Despite the Corona virus, they have sold more than 2,000 season tickets so far, a record in the Elite League era and around three times more than the time when Tony Smith took over the club ownership.A club spokesman said: "The fans are trusting us to deliver a great team for the upcoming season and that is a nice endorsement to have."Our meeting last week looked at all eventualities so that we can start the new season as soon as the date is finalised."

Sheffield Steelers fans