Royce leaves on 'amicable' terms

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The Independent Online

The Jon Royce saga has ended. A bland statement from the English Hockey Association announced yesterday that they were pleased to report that their dispute with the former Great Britain women's coach had been amicably settled.

The EHA added that Royce would be resigning from all his duties with immediate effect, and said that after careful consideration the EHA had decided not to take any further action in relation to the investigation it had been conducting.

Royce, who was the chief coach to the Great Britain women's squad at last year's Sydney Olympics, was subsequently appointed as assistant coach to the England men's side at the beginning of the year.

The appointment was seen by many as a demotion but one which he was fulfiling with his usual vigour until on Sunday 8 April he was suspended on full pay by the EHA following allegations made by the former Great Britain captain Pauline Stott about his conduct before and during Great Britain's Sydney Olympic campaign.

Stott had claimed that Royce called the team "imbeciles'' and on one occasion had been locked in the team bus until he calmed down. Royce strongly denied the allegations.

The EHA then announced an internal investigation into the accusations. The EHA chief executive, Richard Wyatt, said: "At this stage we need to establish if Jon Royce has a case to answer.'' The investigation, which surely should have been external, dragged on and on and it appears that at no stage were the allegations of the players and others interviewed communicated to Royce or his lawyer. Accordingly he has refused to speak publicly and was not available for comment yesterday.

It would seem that the conclusion which has now been reached has been achieved by the direct intervention during the past couple of weeks of the EHA president, Mike Corby, in an effort to bring the affair to a satisfactory end. Corby departed yesterday for the Junior World Cup in Hobart and was also not available for comment.

It is thought that in agreeing to resign to pursue his teaching and coaching career Royce is likely to have accepted some financial compensation, although there were no details available yesterday. Royce is now likely to be in demand. It has been rumoured that Surbiton, who parted company with their coach Malcolm Dunn recently, could be interested.

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