Ice Hockey: Racers on the brink over rink

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The Independent Online
THE Murrayfield Racers may not be back playing at their old rink this weekend, the British Ice Hockey Association having vetoed their proposed move from Edinburgh to nearby Livingston.

The reason for the move is a purely economic one. The Murrayfield rink charges the club pounds 2,000 a game and, with around 800 paying customers (the official attendance figure is often boosted by free tickets), debts are said to be running at pounds 150,000. By contrast, Livingston will charge pounds 500 a game.

The complication comes from the BIHA's insistence that clubs cannot move from one rink to another. Last season, for example, Solihull Barons were banned from switching to Sheffield Arena. The BIHA's arguement is that new rinks should develop teams through the lower leagues rather than buying an existing club or offering use of its facilities.

However, the club - who have been in existence since 1953 - could go out of business if forced to return to Edinburgh. This would leave Fife Flyers as the sole Premier Division side in Scotland.

In turn, this could see a return to the two regional leagues that existed in the early Seventies rather than the current national Premier League and two regional First Divisions.

David Pickles, the BIHA's secretary, travels north today to meet with Frank Dempster, the Scottish member on the BIWA council, and club officials to try and solve the situation.

On the ice, Cardiff Devils extended their lead at the top of the Premier Division to 14 points ahead of Fife, Sheffield and Murrayfield with wins over Humberside and Basingstoke.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 35

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