Ice Hockey: Elite snub leaves clubs out in cold

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The Independent Online

The Elite League has rejected applications from Dundee Stars, Guildford Flames and Fife Flyers to join the British top flight.

Newcastle Vipers and Edinburgh Capitals have already defected from the second-tier British National League to the Elite League while the Bracknell Bees owner, John Nike, has called a halt to his funding after 18 years in the sport.

Consequently Dundee, the BNL play-off champions, Fife, Guildford and Hull Stingrays were left in limbo, although the latter two and Bracknell are believed to have since applied for entry into the English Premier League.

As for Dundee, the directors are in negotiations to secure the future of the sport on Tayside with the possibility of a new league being formed.

A statement from the Ward brothers, Charlie, Stephen and Michael, said: "The news from the Elite League was not totally unexpected as there seems to have been a hidden agenda in the thought process of their members. Therefore we have been working behind the scenes to form a six-to-eight team professional league encompassing teams from Scotland and England, although these discussions are at an early stage."

It added: "We have built Dundee Stars from scratch to become one of the most successful clubs in the country and we are determined to put all our efforts into making this league a success and the way forward for ice hockey in Scotland and England.

"We have already secured a major sponsor for the league and the commitment shown by this company expresses their confidence in the product we are proposing. The concept of this league is to provide a secure route for young British players to progress through the ranks of the clubs' burgeoning junior development programmes to the professional game."

Guildford were also disappointed by the league's decision and will, too, now regroup to discuss what their future holds.

A statement from the club said: "We had intended to make the jump to the Elite League, and indeed we believed there would be no problems with our application due to our significant stability and our resources to operate a club at that level.

"To that end we had been planning for the new season based on membership within the Elite League, but obviously things have changed with the decision and it is time for us to move on to alternative plans."

The future of Fife - the oldest hockey team in the UK - is also in the melting pot and doubts surround whether their player-coach, Mark Morrison, will end his 12-season stay with the Kirkcaldy outfit.