British EIHL season suspended; Cardiff withdraws from CHL

British EIHL season suspended; Cardiff withdraws from CHL

On Monday’s video conference call, the 10 teams of the Elite Ice Hockey League unanimously agreed that they cannot commit to a 2020-21 league season starting on December 5th as previously planned, and the season will be suspended. This consequently means that the Cardiff Devils have to withdraw from the Champions Hockey League.

League Chairman Tony Smith spoke on behalf of the 10 member teams:

“We’ve been very open that we need to have fans back in our arenas for us to begin playing again. We operate around 75% to 100% capacity at our venues and this is the level of crowds we would need in order to go ahead at any point, which isn’t a realistic option right now.

"Government compliance along with the safety of our players, officials, staff and fans is paramount to this decision.

“If government guidance and support were to change, some teams may be ready to revise their plans to return to play and would need a minimum of eight weeks to prepare.

"We are looking into the possibility of some form of top-level ice hockey in the UK potentially taking place in early 2021. This could start in late January or early February and go through into late June, but may not include all teams and again this is dependent on crowds being allowed back inside venues.

“We continue to speak with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and devolved administrations about their plans for the return of fans to arenas that would enable this to happen, but having a full EIHL season starting in 2020 with ten teams is now beyond us, unfortunately.”

As a result of Cardiff’s withdrawal from the Champions Hockey League, the Devils’ first-round opponent, Sweden’s Färjestad Karlstad, will get a bye to the second round.

Photo: David Williams

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