Red Hockey CEO Wayne Scholes has pledged his future to EPL champions Telford Tigers during a packed fans forum.
The event at Telford Ice Rink saw dozens of supporters question club bosses on the future of the EPL outfit, along with Red Hockey’s involvement with Manchester Phoenix and Bracknell Bees.
Scholes said his company invested in the other two clubs in order to maintain a 10-team league, but insisted the main priority was Telford.
He confirmed the situation had now reached a point where no more money could be put into Manchester or Bracknell and that it had cost in excess of six figures to help the teams out.
Red Hockey has now offered to take a substantial loss on its investment into Manchester to try and help the club return to the city.
Scholes said his Telford project, which was based around a ‘five-year plan’, was still on target.
“We’ve put in around a million pounds so far, and you just don’t walk away from that sort of investment,” he said.
“Of course, the whole point is that this club stands on its own two feet and is self-sustaining, but we’re certainly getting towards that point.
“In terms of the league, our playing budget is still about fifth or sixth. We are nowhere near being the top-spending team. I would say there are probably about five teams above us.”
He also faced questions about the club’s future in the EPL – and the possibility of stepping up to the Elite League.
“Every option is open to us, but the time to think about that is at the end of the year,” said Scholes. “There are lots of proposals about changes to the EPL, so we’ll see where we are at the end of the season.
“I totally think about the Elite League, and it’s often on my mind. But we play in the EPL right now, and at the end of the season we always reassess where we are.
“We don’t have any plans to present to the Elite League about joining for next year.”
The Tigers boss was asked about the performance of this year’s team in their defence of the EPL title – and he immediately gave his backing to Head Coach Tom Watkins.
“We have the best coach in the country in Tom, and we’re very lucky to have him here,” he said.
“It is hard, because as an owner I have different expectations to that of a fan. I want to win games, but as an owner I know I should stay out of Tom’s business.
“Ultimately, I can’t walk in and tell those guys what to do, and I would never do that. So yes, I do have expectations but I have to make sure the ‘fan’ Wayne doesn’t influence the ‘owner’ Wayne.”
Manchester’s Head Coach Tony Hand has revealed his gratitude at the response from the UK hockey community following the formation of a Supporters Trust in order to guarantee his club’s future.
To help fund the team for the remainder of the season, Phoenix are giving fans the opportunity to help secure the club’s future ahead of a return to Manchester for next season.
After the Trust was formed at the weekend, commitments from both Phoenix fans and further afield have already started to come in, and Hand couldn’t be happier.
“The Supporters Trust is a great idea as it allows the fans to play a crucial role in the club’s future, but we need additional funding to get through to the summer” said Hand.
“The fans have been fantastic and I’ve never once thought about running away, as both Neil (Morris) and I have put so much into this club. Any help from Phoenix fans or those from other clubs is hugely appreciated.
“The situation over the summer in moving ice rinks was never going to be ideal, as many fans who would love to attend games haven’t been able to.
“However, we’ve still had great crowds at Deeside, and we’ve had a huge amount of support from the Deeside community and the Council.
“I’ve seen all of the plans and there’s a huge amount of work going into the new ice rink in Manchester, and we have to be there from next season in order to survive.
“The guys are staying positive, and our long-term aim is to win trophies again but it won’t happen overnight. We have a strong fan base and want to build on it – Manchester is a huge catchment area so I’m sure that the new rink will be a great success.”
BIH has contacted Wayne Scholes directly for comment regarding the situation at all Red Hockey clubs and we will bring you any updates when we have them.