Ice hockey is one of the most spectacular and most popular sports around the world. However, in Britain it has long remained on the sidelines, losing the lead to soccer, cricket, rugby, golf and other sports. Now we see that the popularity of ice hockey among spectators and bettors in the UK has increased dramatically. What is the reason? We will tell you in this article.
A bit of history
In the 1930s, Great Britain had a very strong hockey team. In 1935-1939, it won the Olympic Games, the World Championship and twice became the second and once the third.
The success of British hockey at that time was attributed to the involvement of Canadian coaches and players, as well as the creation of Europe’s first professional hockey league, called the England Hockey League.
In the pre-war years, the popularity of hockey in Britain was such that the first live TV report by the BBC was not from a soccer game, but from a hockey game.
After the war, everything changed. Gradually, interest in hockey began to decline and in 1951 the British left the main division of the world championship. They managed to return there only in 1962 when the USSR and Czechoslovakia boycotted the tournament. But then the British took the last place and returned to the championship only in 1994, having lost all matches with a crushing score.
Now the EIHL includes 12 teams from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland. And the popularity of hockey in the UK is steadily growing again. Three teams from this country are in the top 100 most attended in European hockey. These are Nottingham, Sheffield and Belfast. What is the reason for this interest?
Why hockey is gaining popularity in the UK again
1. The success of the national team
The national team sensationally made its way to the Ice Hockey World Championship, which was held in 2019. The UK guaranteed their participation in the championship, taking first place in the first division tournament in 2018.
The British participated in the World Cup for the first time since 1994. Of course, they took only 13th place out of 16, but the very fact that their national team played at the most prestigious hockey championship and fought with the best teams in the world made the fans stick to the TV screens.
2. Television coverage
EIHL is actively promoting ice hockey through television channels. So, in 2016, the organization signed a contract with Front Runner TV to broadcast game highlights three days a week. Later, FreeSports and Premier Sports became EIHL partners. They have broadcast league matches, highlights, preseason shows, and playoff and cup finals (you can read more about TV broadcasting on Telecomasia.net).
3. Social networks
EIHL actively promotes itself on the Internet and such popular social networks as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, gaining tens of thousands of subscribers. On the pages of the league, you can find exclusive photos, videos, interviews, insider information and various interactions.
At the same time, British developers are actively creating games dedicated to hockey. One of the most popular was the arcade game Ultimate Rivals: The Rink, available as a game subscription in the App Store. In this game, the user can play as their favorite athletes, taking part in hockey matches, performing complex combinations and using various techniques.
Thanks to all these factors, ice hockey is rapidly gaining popularity in the UK.