Sheffield Spartans have confirmed they will not be icing a team in NIHL North this season.
Sheffield Spartans NIHL statement – https://t.co/ZLr4f4vjAN
— Sheffield Spartans (@SheffSpartans) July 16, 2016
Rumours emerged earlier this week that the club wouldn’t be taking its place in Moralee D1, as it had effectively been ‘forced out’ of iceSheffield by the Sheffield Ice Hockey Academy.
BIH contacted the Academy’s Chair Person, Joe Walker, last Tuesday to find out more about the situation.
Walker admitted the Spartans would not be icing, but denied the team had been forced out and said “financial reasons” had brought matters to a head.
When asked if the Academy would be issuing an official press release, Walker said no.
NIHL North manager Charles Dacres told BIH he was “unable to respond” regarding the Spartans and other issues surrounding the league, but confirmed he hoped to have some answers by the end of the week.
BIH has not received this information to date.
Many current and former Spartans players have passed comment about the club’s demise on social media.
— Chris Wilcox (@chriswilcox24) July 15, 2016
— Danny Mawer (@DannyMawer18) July 16, 2016
The Spartans were that stepping stone that allowed people like me, Matt Haywood, Robert Farmer & Tom Squires to go EPL and then EIHL
— Ben Bowns (@bownsy21) July 16, 2016
Spartans’ supporters have understandably taken the news badly.
Phil Holden, who was crowned Fan of the Century at the 100 Years of British Ice Hockey celebration dinner in 2013, has been particularly vocal in criticising the Academy.
“I am dismayed and disappointed that a seemingly manufactured situation has brought about the demise of my beloved Spartans,” said Holden.
“In doing so removing an invaluable tool, one with a proven track record, in the development of Sheffield’s young ice hockey players.
“It has particularly disappointed me in the way it has been done, rather than it being done in the first place.
“I have been proud to dedicate a large chunk of my life in supporting the Spartans – producing match programmes, writing reports and generally supporting the team in any way I could including sponsorship.
“There have been highs, there have been lows, as there is in following any sports team, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. We have overcome many tribulations but this one was too big to do so.
“I would like to thank anyone who has pulled a Spartans shirt on, the coaches that have lead us into battle, my co-supporters for contributing to so many happy memories but most of all Lynn (Millard), our Team Manager.
“She’s one in a million, and it is for her I feel for most.
“So, it’s R.I.P. and drink as opposed to rip and drink, but we will always be #allspartans.”