NIHL National League plots return for new season

The NIHL National League has announced they’ve began putting in plans for a new season to start in September.

The move is a very positive one following the recent success of the Spring Cup, which took place over seven weeks between mid-February and the end of March.

And, in a statement on the EIHA website, they revealed co-operation between the clubs has never been stronger as they look to the future and some level of normality.

“The end of March saw the conclusion of the Spring Cup which was a fantastic online showcase of hockey, great entertainment and a deserved overall victory for the Sheffield Steeldogs,” the statement said.

“The five clubs who participated looked carefully at the options to continue playing into April and May, but have decided that this is not possible so we would like to thank our fans, rink operators, EIHA and Andrew Miller for their support making the Spring Cup a success.

“Following on from that series, the NIHL Owners Group has been working together and has agreed that we are now planning and preparing to play the 2021/22 season. 

“This is a great moment as we start to move on from survival mode into taking the steps back towards more normality in our game.

“To the owners, it feels like cooperation and communication between us has never been higher, and this has allowed us to make meaningful progress on the key activities not only to bring our game back, but also to look at sustainability and the long term future of our sport.

Sheffield Steeldogs won the Spring Cup last month, a competition deemed a success by the EIHA (PHOTO: Karl Denham)

One big change already discussed by the clubs is the introduction of a wage cap to help get them through the financial impact the coronavirus has brought over the last year.

“In that focus on sustainability, we have agreed in principle a wage cap which will set the foundations for our long term future whilst building on the exciting on-ice action we saw in our last full season,” the statement added. 

“Implementing a wage cap helps clubs with budgeting and forecasting, which is a particularly difficult task given the COVID impact on the entertainment industry and uncertainty of how people will want to watch the game when it returns.”

The EIHA and NIHL North also announced that three teams from the recent North Cup will be taking part in a further series of games starting this coming Saturday.

Nottingham Lions, Sheffield Scimitars and Widnes Wild will compete in the Three Rivers Cup over the next seven weekends with each side playing the other twice at home and twice away. The competition gets its name from each club’s proximity to a major river in their town or city – the rivers Trent, Don and Mersey.

Clubs will continue to follow the COVID-secure protocols that were in force during the first tournament and are once again grateful to their home venues for their help and support in getting the games on and keeping everyone involved safe.

The games will continue to be held behind closed doors and will be broadcast on the respective YouTube channels by each team.

Information on fixtures can be found here.

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