The Elite League have released further information about the proposed Magic 5 weekend, which looks set to replace the cancelled play-off finals weekend.
Fans will get the chance to get an early look at their teams as a way of beginning next season and tickets for the play-off finale will be valid.
The weekend, which will see a round of games all played at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena over two days, has been pencilled in for September, but ongoing restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic mean nothing has been confirmed.
The statement, on the Elite League website, said: “There will be three games lined up for the Saturday and two on the Sunday.
“These games will all count for league points and will be in addition to the sides’ home schedules. Rivalries will be renewed and the weekend promises to be a spectacular launch for the return of top-flight ice hockey in the UK.
“Meanwhile, the early end of the 2019-20 season because of the virus outbreak continues to cause issues, not least a starting date for next season. Discussions are ongoing on that front and many others.”
Reaction has been mixed regarding the Magic 5 Weekend, with some fans not keen on paying extra to only see their team once, while others highlighted the extra cost of travel and accommodation.
The league will confirm further details as and when they can in due course.
COMMENT: Pros outweigh the cons for Magic 5
When the idea of a Magic 5 weekend was first floated, it excited many and left a few feeling deflated, coupled with the blow that there would be no play-off weekend in 2020.
Now that there is a little more information, it left us to weigh up the pros and cons of this replacement event so we decided to share them.
1. A decent substitute in the absence of the traditional play-off weekend
It’s fair to say the cancellation of the play-offs has left everyone disappointed, but as the ongoing situation with the coronavirus has shown, we are living in unusual times.
The league will make a loss on this, no doubt, so the fact an event like the Magic 5 gives everyone an alternative rather than having nothing at all.
2. Five meaningful games over the weekend, instead of three
While we all love the play-off weekend and the simple knockout format, there are only three meaningful games – the two semi-finals and the final. The third place games is a mere exhibition and one very unpopular game to have.
This way, there are five competitive games to enjoy over the full weekend where the action should be as full-blooded as it would be every other weekend.
3. Points on offer for all teams
Continuing the previous point on, it means all five games have something riding on it and every team has the chance to take full points away that will count to their tally for the season.
4. All fans will get to see their team in action over the weekend
Whenever you go to a play-off weekend, there’s only four teams in action, so six sets of fans get to be happy neutrals and just enjoy themselves.
Under the Magic 5, all teams get to play across the weekend and all fans can look forward to seeing their boys ice in competitive action in an event like this.
5. Doesn’t take away from season ticket games
This is a winner for the organisations because it’s an additional game on the calendar so fans don’t have to forsake one of the games on the season ticket for this.
If anything, it produces extra revenue and should cushion the blow from any losses suffered as a result of the early shutdown.
👉 If you want to attend Magic5️⃣, your POFW are automatically valid
👉 Anyone who would prefer to have refund now may do so by emailing @nottinghamarena
👉 Returned tickets will be put back on sale at a later date
— EIHL (@officialEIHL) March 30, 2020
6. Replaces a forced tournament concept and removes any pre-season feel
Exhibition games are useful, but players would rather be playing competitive games that mean something and that’s exactly what this will be for them.
It also means you don’t have to shoehorn and force a tournament with shortened games and a trophy that carries no meaning in the general scheme of things.
7. Potential festival of televised hockey?
We’re speculating on this, but if it does happen, you may have the possibility of having the full weekend televised, which would be great for fans who don’t have tickets.
It’s unclear whether there’s something in the pipeline with Premier Sports or FreeSports, but you would hope there will be a conversation that will see all games televised or streamed for fans to enjoy.
8. Potential for success and could lead to further weekends like this in the future
While organising something like this has been forced upon the Elite League, it can be looked upon as an opportunity to create an annual event if this one proves to be a success.
1. Fans who watch their team one day may not want to come along for the other day
That’s entirely their right to do so if they wish and provisions would be made if this is the case
2. Fans paying for games they may not want to see – also travel and accommodation
There is the burden of extra cost for some fans, perhaps a bigger cost for some more than others. Understandable in the current environment and uncertainty once the virus clears.
3. No date confirmed as yet due to coronavirus restitutions
The league are not in a position to confirm this yet, but have pencilled in 12th and 13th September. It means sadly, no-one can make arrangements until they know for sure.
4. There’s no trophy up for grabs
One of the highlights of the play-off final is of course, the presentation and celebrations which finishes off that particular weekend. Once the fifth game is completed in this instance, you’re looking at something of an anti-climactic feel to the short festival.
5. It’s not the play-off weekend
Indeed, it is not and in the circumstances, the Magic 5 weekend is all we have from that point of view. It has its charm and will be missed in 2020, but we are where we are right now.