A new team in Milton Keynes have moved to remove MK Lightning from the NIHL National Division in a day of drama for the sport in the town.
In a joint statement between Planet Ice and “Let’s Play Hockey”, who have started the new Milton Keynes Ice Hockey Club revealed they will take over the ice time at the rink in place of Lightning, who were hit with further accusations of failing to pay their players.
MKIHC also confirmed their application to join the Elite League had been rejected and had to review their business plan to match the criteria of the NIHL.
The new club have also said they will approach the players and coaching staff at Lightning with a view to perhaps bringing them on board.
The statement on the website said: “After an eventful day, Planet Ice confirm that they have offered Milton Keynes Ice Hockey Club Limited (MKIHC) the opportunity to manage the Milton Keynes-based National Division NIHL team for the 2019/20 season.
“Furthermore, the team behind “Let’s Play Hockey” have accepted the offer and are pleased to confirm that Milton Keynes will enter the National Division under their management.
“Since announcing this morning that the Elite League had decided not to award them a place for the upcoming season, the MKIHC has moved quickly to finalise a review of the business model required for NIHL. This has been possible thanks to a close working relationship with Planet Ice.
“Alongside this, Planet Ice have awarded the Ice Contract to MKIHC who will manage the only NIHL National Division side to play out of Milton Keynes, complementing the current South 1 side – MK Thunder.
MKIHC has watched recent signings with interest and will shortly commence discussions with playing and coaching staff previously secured by MK Lightning for the upcoming season.”
Lightning’s issues have been well publicised in the last few months with the owners, Graham and Monica Moody, facing ongoing accusations of failure to pay player wages and expenses from a number of players and former coach Doug McKay.
The latest was Trevor Morbeck, who posted on his Facebook account in depth about his issues, with the threat of eviction from his apartment hanging over him and the possibility of giving up his MBA course, listing the expenses he feels is owed to him.
He said: “The other day the landlord showed up unexpectedly, stating that the rent had not been paid for this month.
“This made me extremely nervous, as I am sure anyone in this situation would be. The thought of being evicted from our apartment with only two months left in my masters degree is nerve racking. How would I continue to go to university with nowhere to live?
“The thought of working so hard and coming so close to graduation only to face these financial decisions is heart breaking.
“Now I’m forced with the decision to go home and sacrifice completing my MBA that I have worked hard for or stay to complete it and face financial hardship is disappointing.”
The EIHA have stated they are keeping an eye on the situation and a statement said: “The NIHL League Management Committee have been monitoring recent developments around membership of the new NIHL National division in Milton Keynes.
“Discussions are still ongoing and the league will make a full statement when matters are concluded.
“The NIHL are continuing to work behind the scenes with plans for season 2019/20 for all divisions of the National Ice Hockey League and will be able to confirm details following section meetings which are planned for the weekend of 8th/9th June.”
Graham Moody was also contacted for comment, but did not reply to our request.
Fans have started a fund to help Morbeck and Nelson Armstrong, who is also affected by what’s happened in assisting them in finishing their MBAs. The fund currently stands at over £3,000 and anyone wishing to donate can click on the MK Lightning Player Contingency Fund page.