The Elite League and the EIHA have both welcomed the news that ice hockey will receive significant funding as part of the Sport Winter Survival Package.
The government scheme was set up to assist sports badly affected by the effects of coronavirus, due to lockdown and no attendances resulting in organisation’s not being able to function as they would normally.
It means the Elite League will receive £2.3 million, made up of grants and loans to help put on the Elite Series, which is due to start next month, while the EIHA will receive £400,000 in grants to assist them as they look to return to normality.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston outlined the importance the funding will have on the sport, not only in the current situation, but longer term.
“This unprecedented support for ice hockey will act as a lifeline for the sport and ice rinks across the country,” he said. “The reality is that without stepping in, it would have meant 18 months of no live action.
“Visibility is important to inspire the next generation, so I’m delighted that we’ve been able to work with the relevant bodies to develop a new proposal that supports the highest level of the sport through the Elite Series, and has also given clubs at regional level the confidence to return to the ice.”
Tony Smith, the Elite League chairman welcomed the news and praised the collective effort in obtaining the funds that will not only help the organisation of the Elite Series, but the preparation for the GB Men’s national team ahead of the World Championships in Latvia.
“The UK’s top professional ice hockey league – the Elite Ice Hockey League – is thrilled to be able to get back on the ice with the backing from amongst others: the teams, the government and (when the action starts) the massive army of fans that follow us,” he said.
“In an ever changing landscape caused by the pandemic it is testament to the collective power that everyone pulling together can bring that we are going to stage a four team top flight event which will give fans something to cheer.
“At the same time the best players in the country will get a chance to compete for a place on the ‘plane to the World Championships. Without this series the GB players could have landed badly underprepared for games against the world’s elite.
“A tremendous amount of work and commitment is going on to make this event happen and we thank everyone for their support.”
EIHA’s acting chairman Andrew Miller added: “The Association and our clubs are grateful to the Government for their support of our sport as part of the Sport Winter Survival Package.
“Their help and the hard work of our teams, players and staff as well as our venues has enabled us to return three competitions and around 400 athletes to the ice.
“We look forward to a fuller return to play for more of our clubs and athletes in the coming weeks.”
The news gives a further boost a week after it was announced four Scottish clubs – Glasgow Clan, Dundee Stars, Fife Flyers and Murrayfield Racers – would receive £200,000 in grants from the Scottish Government.