Talks continue over Steelers' possible season

Guildford Flames' decision to pull out of plans for a condensed ice hockey season has not extinguished hopes of a planned tournament starting in the next few weeks.

Sunday, 24th January 2021, 5:51 pm
Updated Monday, 25th January 2021, 9:44 am

The Surrey side has announced it is no longer interested in joining Sheffield Steelers, Nottingham Panthers, Coventry Blaze and Manchester Storm in a mini-season for Elite League clubs.

At first it seemed to some fans that the decision had sounded the death knell on the planned campaign, featuring the remaining English EIHL teams.

But that's not the case.

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Guildford Flames v Sheffield Steelers, 12 months ago

A club spokesman said: "We and the other clubs are working around the clock with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Sport England to try and progress things.

"Guildford's decision was unfortunate but not totally unexpected and does not really affect things, we are just carrying on. Really not a lot has changed.

"Further talks go on with the Government all this week and hopefully by the end of this week, it is hoped that something will be agreed, one way or the other."

Guildford's basic organisation and rink availability is different to the others.The club's Kirk Humphreys said “Every team in this league operates on a different model of infrastructure and resource parameters and many teams are far better suited to the extensive challenges presented in this unique situation. For those able to proceed, we support them and wish them all success.

“With realistic prospects for long term improvements in the public health situation over the course of the coming months, and with our primary current concern focused on how we could safely take part in a fairly immediate short schedule, it became apparent that patience is the best decision for this club in consideration of what looks to be a more positive outlook for the 2021-2022 season from September.

“We are disappointed for our fans who will be saddened to hear this decision, but we know this is in the best interests of everyone involved with this club at this time. We look forward to getting to the point where we are ready to re-join our Elite League counterparts, and when we can once again invite our great supporters to join us for the action.”

Flames said Sheffield and the other three English clubs were continuing "to evaluate Sport England’s ‘Winter Survival Package’ options that may help conduct a short 20-21 term."

Meanwhile, overseas Steelers Robert Dowd and Marco Vallerand were on target for their Italian team Eppan over the weekend.

They scored and assisted on each other's goal, but their team dipped 4-3 to Pergine.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.