Pacha: We have to plan as normal

Elite League Playoff Final, Panthers CEO
Omar Pacha, Dundee Stars (Image: Scott Wiggins)

Dundee Stars coach and general manager Omar Pacha says the only way to prepare for next season is proceed as though it’s happening.

The ongoing coronavirus situation has not only prematurely ended 2019/20 in the Elite League, but has cast doubt over whether next season is likely to begin on time with other sporting events in late summer already being cancelled.

But Pacha insists the only way to be ready is to carry on as normal as the line is drawn on the previous campaign and thoughts turn to the future.

“For me, it’s about slowly getting preparations ready for next season,” he said. “We’re no different to every other team out there with the amount of uncertainty there is, so we have to make sure that we can plan ahead, but it’s tough to plan without knowing when we can go again.

“The most important thing we can do is try to prepare as normal for a season as though we’re all good to go again.

“We’re planning right now and the recruitment of it right now is looking at all options available and working on that as the weeks go on.

Dundee’s hopes of fighting their way into the play-offs were dashed (PHOTO: Derek Black)

“There’s a lot of things we have to do in the background before we know what direction to take.  How we do on the business side of it, of course, impacts on budget.

“We were among the top teams to have a bigger increase in people coming to the games, up 14 or 15%, so that was great to see.  We have to keep that momentum for next season, whenever that’s going to be.

“This has affected everybody, no question, but with our model, what we want to do, when this is all over, is get everyone back on board and push ahead for the future.”

Whatever happens in the future, the addition of the proposed Magic 5 weekend is one that Pacha is fully on board with.

But he reflected on what is now last season, admitting there will be a financial price to pay as a result of the virus and revealed the news of the league’s shutdown took a few days to absorb.

He added: “It’s hard to tell how much in financial terms this will impact on us because we don’t know how long it’s going to last, but we are being realistic in the way that we will take a hit.  Every other team will say the same thing.

Pacha is already looking ahead (PHOTO: Derek Black)

“Of course, it was entirely unexpected and everything happened so fast, but we made sure all the guys got home safely.

“It (the shutdown) was hard.  We had the game in hand with Manchester, two points behind Glasgow and a possible tie-breaker against both teams so we had our sights on seventh place.

“It’s frustrating because I thought we made a decent push in the second half of the season and we were doing well.  We beat Sheffield away and Cardiff at home and they were two teams we possibly could have faced in the play-offs.

“With the chaos going on, it probably took a few days for it to sink in that the season was done and it’s too bad.  No matter what anyone says about this group, they always worked hard and competed and I like to think the second half of the season is indicative of that.

“But looking ahead, the final four is a great weekend for revenue and not having it this year hurts, so to have an event, like the Magic 5, with all fans getting a look at all the teams, it’s a good idea and it’s good to have five games for the fans to enjoy.

“I hear rumours of possible rivalry games so again, I think it can add more excitement to the weekend itself.”

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