Why Sheffield Steelers are unlikely to suffer like Cardiff Devils did

Elite League board members are discussing every possible option to ensure that games in the regular season, Challenge Cup and Play Offs will continue will take place - including a possible extension to the 2021-22 campaign.

Friday, 31st December 2021, 10:16 am

Steelers' owner and EIHL chairman Tony Smith says rival League clubs are working in partnership to avoid a Covid-caused termination of the season that fans witnessed in 2019-20.

He says the 10 clubs are not overly worried about the financial reverses that will hit home if and when future matches are postponed.

Instead, there is a common will to ensure fixtures will eventually be honoured, even if they are not in the order initially planned.

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Sheffield Steelers in action against Cardiff Devils. Picture: Dave Williams

"We are intending to put games in where we can and work together, if we drop a fixture then we'll try and slot it in as quick as we can" said Smith.

"We don't know exactly what is going to happen (with the virus and Government precautions) we are taking things a week at a time.

The Sheffield boss says he has had no sleepless nights thinking whether his own club will suffer the fate of Cardiff Devils in 2020.

The Welsh had been a point ahead at the top of the table with three games in hand when coronavirus halted the season completely.

Sheffield Steelers fan wearing a mask to watch their team at Cardiff. Picture: David Williams

"I sleep soundly," said Smith. "That year was an unusual situation, the country got closed down. Unless they close the whole country down again we will do everything in our power to complete our season.

"That's the important mesage - will do what we can to keep games going, maybe one night we should have play Nottingham but play Manchester instead to keep the fixtures moving.

"We will be ok as long as the situation is not taken out of our hands."

The play off final is due to be played on April 24 and the IIFF World Championships in the second week of May - so could the EIHL season be lengthened if necessary?

"We (EIHL board) are discussing all options right now" said the chairman.

"If we do extend we can't go very far; we haven't made any firm decisions at this stage.

"It's about ice availability at all rinks, but it is possibly an option, again it depends on all sorts of factors including catching up on games."

Smith said fellow board members were "reasonably relaxed" about the way the League could cope with short-term postponements.

"Three is no feeling of crisis. At the end of the day, it is a 10-day break, the rules a month ago were much different to what they are today, because then if you had a single case of covid you had to have every other team member PCR tested and wait for the result.

"A couple of weeks ago they relaxed the rules; if you had any cases you would isolate them and the rest of the team would lateral flow test for seven days.

"Once get them out of isolation, like Nottingham did, you can plod on and should be good to go for the rest of the season."