More NIHL clubs given elite sport status

Swindon Wildcats and MK Lightning were two of the three teams involved in the Streaming Series back in November (PHOTO: Tony Sargent)

Further clubs have been added to the elite sport list, which enables training behind closed doors, even in tier 4 areas.

Training can take place, subject to venue agreement, within a team bubble of up to 30 players. Any players moving clubs must not participate in another bubble for a period of 14 days.

The NIHL clubs now classified by the Government’s DCMS as elite sport are: Basingstoke Bison, Bees IHC, Blackburn Hawks, Leeds Chiefs, Milton Keynes Lightning, Milton Keynes Thunder, Nottingham Lions, Raiders IHC (National & NIHL 1), Sheffield Steeldogs, Solent Devils, Solway Sharks, Streatham IHC, Swindon Wildcats, Telford Tigers

Games can be played in areas in tier three and above, although must be behind closed doors in tier three areas.

The streaming series, involving Swindon Wildcats, Milton Keynes Lightning and Sheffield Steeldogs, has proved a success – further proof that people’s online habits are evolving from online casino play to watching live sport from anywhere.

And the EIHA has also revealed that a total of £1.2m has been secured to potentially enable the NIHL National to start some form of season.

The detail of this is being worked on, to determine how the funding can be made available, what needs to be put in place and how much for each club.

There remains hope that the season could start in January, though will depend on the financial viability and of course the rink operators’ plans to re-open, in the ever changing coronavirus environment.

Leeds chiefs player Sam Gospel told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “Hopefully a league-wide streaming series is something that can follow soon.

“There would have to be some kind of pre-season, some kind of preparation, obviously.

“But if Sam (Zajac, Chiefs coach) rang tomorrow and said we’ll get all the contracts re-signed for however long the season is going to be and we’ll start practising next Tuesday, I don’t think there would be any of the players saying they couldn’t make it because everyone is so desperate to get back at it.”

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