Due to the unprecedented social media speculation regarding the recent situation involving the Sheffield Steeldogs, it is felt that now that situation has concluded, Planet Ice should make a statement.
Late in June 2023 Planet Ice was made aware by Ali Cree of a situation involving the Sheffield Steeldogs relating to their financial issues and Planet Ice were happy to provide advice and guidance when the Steeldogs approached them for support.
At a meeting of all the owners of the teams in the league, Ali Cree painted a picture of being subjected to a hostile takeover and made it clear that he wished to continue running the Steeldogs. This clearly concerned everyone at the meeting.
At the same time Planet Ice was also aware that a unanimous decision had been made by the teams participating in the Planet Ice National Ice Hockey League, National Division to form their own legal entity to oversee league operations and were in discussions with both the English Ice Hockey Association and Ice Hockey UK regarding obtaining an agreement to operate the new legal entity in the future.
Planet Ice now understands that all relevant discussions have concluded and that a fee of £50,000 to enable an Elite League team to also operate a National League team has been paid to the EIHA. This fee will be used to set-up the Planet Ice National Ice Hockey League, National division as a standalone league starting from the 24/25 season.
It is understood that any other Elite League team wishing to operate a team in both the Elite League and the National League going forward will be required to pay £50,000 to the new league to cover operating expenses.
Clearly there is a significant risk to the current league and teams if one of the teams spends significant amount more on players then the other teams, as happened only a few years ago when Red Hockey became involved. It is understood that assurances have been made by the Steeldogs that they will operate on a similar basis to the other teams in the league.
Whilst all parties involved in the situation understand the passion of the ice hockey community, Planet Ice would like it noted that the social media campaigns, instigated by two or three individuals, have not influenced the outcome but have probably contributed to a delay in the relevant discussions being concluded.
Planet Ice would like the individuals involved in disseminating rumours or bullying social media staff and volunteers to reflect on the significant negative impact the social media campaign has had on the mental health of the players, volunteers, owners, coaches, and the EIHA, especially given the inaccuracy of a lot of the information.
It should be noted that the majority of teams in the league are not run for profit and that the owners contribute a significant amount of their time and own money to ensuring their teams are competitive. Given the dedication of the team owners and volunteers to sustain their teams through events such as COVID it seems unfair for fans to suggest that the teams wouldn’t act in the best interest of the sport.
In order to be transparent, Planet Ice does review its business model on a regular basis, and there is a strong business case for using the rinks in the evenings for non-ice hockey events and activities in rinks that are capable of accommodating large crowds, and especially on Saturdays.
Whilst some people might be uncomfortable with the idea that rinks do not need league ice hockey to be sustainable, it is clear that being able to pivot and adopt new income streams has ensured the sustainability of the venues, especially post COVID, and whilst in the middle of the current living standards situation.
Ultimately, ice rinks are there to serve everyone within their local community, with the vast majority of people who use ice rinks attending either for recreational skating or to learn to skate, rather than to play or watch ice hockey.
We look forward to eleven teams participating in the Planet Ice National Ice Hockey League, National Division this season and wish all teams the best of luck.