April 19, 2017
English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) Chairman Ken Taggart has advised the seven remaining clubs in the English Premier Ice Hockey League (EPIHL) that his recommendation for season 17/18 is to join the respective north and south divisions of the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL).
Mr Taggart said: “Over the last months there has been discussion and face to face meetings between our clubs in EPIHL and NIHL around the future structure, especially in Tier 2. Our colleagues at IHUK have also been involved in these discussions to try and formulate a national UK-wide second tier of senior ice hockey.
“The current position is that not one of our current NIHL clubs are willing to commit to joining a Tier 2/Premier League structure so that leaves just seven clubs.
“It is my opinion that for those clubs a new Premier League would not be feasible and would be at risk should any of the issues that EPIHL clubs went through this year surface again in the new season.
“My recommendation that they apply to join the NIHL structure would mean a lower cost base in terms of travelling and player budget and lower risk that financial issues could affect the whole league.
“NIHL South have their clubs meeting on 7 May, with NIHL North shortly thereafter so it was important to start the ball rolling as soon as possible once it was clear that the proposed Premier League was not viable.”
Swindon Wildcats, Hull Pirates, Sheffield Steeldogs and Peterborough Phantoms have so far advised that they will apply to NIHL for the 17/18 season. Responses from the remaining clubs are expected in the coming days.
Richard Carpenter, League Manager for the NIHL, explained the next steps in the process.
“At this time, we can confirm that Swindon Wildcats and Hull Pirates have made applications to join the NIHL for the 2017/18 season with others to follow. These applications will be considered in the usual fashion at the section meetings.
“NIHL South will be holding its section meeting on Sunday 7th May, with NIHL North meeting shortly afterwards.
“At the moment, we are continuing to collect information from the member teams of the (E)PIHL & existing NIHL sides to confirm their intentions for the 2017/18 season and we look to announce further information about this over the coming weeks.”