Connect with us


Two wishes for UK & Irish Ice Hockey in 2024

Ice hockey in the United Kingdom and Ireland will head into the New Year with plenty of issues to resolve if the sport is to flourish in the future.

Ice Hockey Puck, British Ice Hockey

Ice hockey in the United Kingdom and Ireland will head into the New Year with plenty of issues to resolve if the sport is to flourish in the future.

The fragmented nature of the governance structure has left ice hockey in the region lagging a long way behind several other so-called niche sports.

With that in mind, we have come up with a couple of wishes for UK and Irish ice hockey in 2024, starting with one that most fans will be able to get on board with.

Sponsorship & Broadcast Deals for the Elite League

The Elite League (EIHL) has a chequered history when it comes to broadcast and sponsorship deals – a factor which hinders the wider perception of the sport.

The appointment of Mark Brooks as its new Head of Commercial Operations in August was supposed to herald a new dawn.

Brooks boasts more than 14 years of commercial, marketing and communications experience in professional sport including a lengthy spell with Belfast Giants.

Securing high-profile sponsorship and broadcast deals needs to be a primary focus for Brooks to ensure the EIHL fulfils its potential over the next few years.

The online gambling industry is among the sectors the league should strive to forge links with, particularly given the impact such partnerships have had in other sports.

Numerous betting sites in Ireland could be options given they may need to redirect their marketing budgets due to the introduction of a proposed gambling advertising watershed in horse racing.

Having historically failed to market itself properly, the EIHL could receive a massive boost if Brooks can clinch a deal with a reputable betting brand alongside a broadcast agreement.

A Fit-For-Purpose Unified Governing Body

Any sport which has genuine aspirations of being successful requires a fit-for-purpose governing body – unfortunately, the UK and Ireland does not currently have one.

Ice Hockey UK (IHUK), England Ice Hockey (EIH), Scottish Ice Hockey (SIH) and the Irish Ice Hockey Association (IIHA) oversee different elements of the sport, which is a truly ridiculous situation.

While IHUK act as the overarching body, their responsibility doesn’t really stretch beyond the Great Britain national team programme.

EIH lurch from one disaster to another, which is doing little to effectively promote the sport in England and Wales, albeit their recent re-brand tries to mark the start of a new direction.

In fairness to SIH, they have done well to improve the standard of their senior competition – the Scottish National League – while their development programme is showing signs of improvement.

However, their inability to grasp the importance of professional media coverage ultimately leaves the whole set-up looking amateurish from the outside.

It is difficult to be too critical of the IIHA, who are forced to operate without much backing or easy access to permanent ice rinks. They desperately need things to change.

The creation of a unified governing body is essential to ensure the lower tiers of senior ice hockey and the associated junior development pathways in the UK and Ireland can shine.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Blogs