Britain to be given IHL team

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The Independent Online
ICE HOCKEY The International Hockey League announced yesterday it will be establishing a British team who will start playing at the beginning of the 1996/97 season.

Richard Adler, the vice-president of the IHL and co-chairman of the expansion programme, said: "We plan seven European teams [the other six will be in France, Austria, Denmark, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland] who will also play a large proportion of the 20-strong US league, if not all of them."

The IHL has looked at three British venues, and while an official announcement will not be made for some weeks, the alternatives are likely to be Manchester, where a 16,500-seat stadium is nearing completion, Wembley Arena and the London Arena in Docklands. Given the northern domination of British ice hockey, Manchester looks favourite.

The International Ice Hockey Federation is in negotiation with the NHL for a pan-European league, and Adler said: "Let market forces prevail. We see Britain as the future of our growth, both as a sport and to encourage youngsters to play and join our ranks. All we want to do is encourage the sport in Britain, and the British game should have nothing to fear from us."

Domestically the shock result in the Premier Division was the bottom-placed club Bracknell Bees' 4-1 defeat of Cardiff Devils. Bees won through a Rick Smith hat-trick and an outstanding performance by Lloyd Clifford in goal.

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