The owners of the 10 clubs in the English Premier Ice Hockey League met last Sunday for a scheduled league meeting.
Representatives from Basingstoke Bison, Bracknell Bees, Guildford Flames, Hull Pirates, Milton Keynes Lightning, Peterborough Phantoms, Sheffield Steeldogs and Swindon Wildcats were present.
The agenda sent out to all teams prior to the meeting comprised of 2 main topics these being:
1. EPL v IHUK League – bearing in mind the meeting being called for the 25th in Manchester and how we approach that individually and collectively.
2. League rules and way forward to include:
a. How we deal with teams being liquidated in season and out of season.
b. Discipline / Penalties and Supplementary evidence.
c. Players being approached in season.
d. Teams for next season.
e. League / Owner management Committee / Group.
It was agreed at the start of the meeting that Harry Howton would be installed as the Acting Chairman of the league moving forwards.
Following a very positive meeting the team representatives present have voted through a variety of rules, aimed at maintaining the integrity and credibility of the competition going forwards.
A unanimous decision was made by all clubs attending that no member club will participate or attend the meeting on the 25th January 2017 convened by IHUK and it is intended that the league will continue for season 2017 / 18.
The main focus of the meeting was how to deal with turmoil and unrest caused by clubs not playing within their means and having to liquidate or bankrupt a company, leaving unpaid debts to creditors and its staff whilst potentially gaining an advantage in on-ice performances. As a result, it was unanimously decided by all member clubs present at the meeting that the Telford Tigers and Manchester Phoenix will not be invited to participate in the end of season playoffs, following their well-documented liquidations in the previous 12 months.
Furthermore, going forwards any club who enters into administration/liquidation or bankruptcy during the course of a season will be placed on the same points as the bottom placed team in the league standings plus an additional ten point deduction, the league will also request that no further ITC cards will be issued to the team in question by IHUK for the duration of the current season. Whilst the new operating company will undergo an extensive due diligence check with a panel made up of the Chairman and current team owners.
We believe these punishments underline our commitment to ensure a fair competition, as well as providing a sustainable future for our sport.
With regards to on-ice issues, all teams have been concerned by the rise in major injuries being sustained by players across the league, especially with regards to head injuries.
With the issue of concussion becoming a pressing concern across the sporting world, the league owners have agreed that dangerous play must be dealt with and with this in mind the EPIHL have agreed a “zero tolerance” policy for hits to the head and dangerous play. This will also be supported by video evidence where required.
It was also agreed that Supplementary discipline can also be requested and EIHA Officers are currently formulating these processes which will be communicated to match officials, coaches and players alike, with both of these policies taking effect from all games played over the weekend of 21st and 22nd January 2017.
Harry Howton commented, “It was a very positive meeting with great input from all teams present hopefully these measures will ensure that the EPIHL can now be stabilised and grow into the future. I look forward to working with the teams as we develop the league”.