Ice Hockey: Local council decide to make Bison extinct

BASINGSTOKE BISON will cease to be a Superleague team at the end of this month after the franchise owners, Basingstoke and Deane Council, withdrew financial support yesterday.

At a special meeting of the borough council, it was agreed that a Superleague team will not continue to operate from the Basingstoke Ice Rink and Lido.

The news is the second major blow to Superleague in the last 24 hours after the American businessman Blake Cullen chose to pull out of the running for the Birmingham franchise on Monday.

Basingstoke council's sport and recreation manager, Neil Cole, said: "The recommendation to withdraw from the Superleague for the 1998/99 season was approved due to the large financial implication, which would have been in excess of pounds 300,000. Professional senior ice hockey will be fully considered, at other levels, for the 1998/99 season. Junior ice hockey development, skating lessons and public skating will continue to operate at the site."

The Superleague chief executive, Ian Taylor, said: "Although this is a setback for the sport, we have substantial interest from operators who are interested in franchises across the UK and we anticipate more teams joining Superleague in the future."