Cornish “in the dark” about Raiders’ future

Wightlink Raiders’ boss Jeremy Cornish says he’s “in the dark” about the club’s future after seeing their home rink closed for the second time in less than a year.

A financial dispute between Ryde Arena Ltd (RAL) and investment firm AEW Europe, which represents the leaseholder Bank of New York Mellon, resulted in bailiffs moving in to repossess the rink.

The Raiders have cancelled both their games this weekend as they await the outcome of further talks between the two parties.

Cornish said: “It’s pretty simple really – if we don’t have a rink, we don’t have a team. We’ve been through this before, but I’m not sure what’s going to happen this time.

“From a team perspective we’re trying to stay positive until early next week. If it’s not going to be opened again that’ll be the end of the Raiders.

“There’s no point considering a rink share elsewhere if they’re not going to open Ryde Arena again – that’s what we need to find out.

“Are they closing it forever, or is it going to be for just a month or two while they sort things out?

“My guys have been through this before – they had three months without a home rink last year and I don’t think many of them would want to go through it again.

“At the moment we’re in the dark about what’s happening. The team is not connected to the Ryde Arena Ltd at all.”

RAL had been trying to negotiate a reduced rent to compensate for unrepaired storm damage, which had left it unable to run many of the internal income-generating facilities.

Its chairman, Ian Jenkins, said RAL had paid around £20,000 in rent, but claimed his firm had lost £100,000 income from the bar, cafe and offices the leaseholder had failed to repair.

Rachel McIsaac, Head of Asset Management AEW UK Core Property Fund, confirmed RAL’s lease on the facility had been terminated due to the accumulation of significant rent arrears.

“I’ve read both sides of the story and I know they’re supposed to be talking again this weekend – but that’s all I know,” added Cornish.

“I’ve asked my players to be patient and give me until next week. We’ve got a good team, so these guys are going to get picked up fast if we don’t know what’s going on.

“If we can’t continue I’ll probably step aside for a while. My boy’s just started skating with the under nine team at Basingstoke and I’ve been helping out a little.

“I’d definitely be open to future offers, but I want to ride this out first. I’ve been with this team for eight years, so I’ll stay loyal to the Raiders until we find out our fate.”

(Image permission: David Trevallion)

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