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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 February, 2003, 12:08 GMT
Elite league gets go-ahead
Sheffield Steelers in action against Cardiff
The elite league aims to get more British players on the ice
Five senior ice hockey teams have agreed to play in a revamped Ice Hockey Elite League next season.

Belfast Giants, London Knights, Manchester IHC, Nottingham Panthers and Superleague champions Sheffield Steelers have committed themselves to the project.

It is particularly good news for Manchester, who will return to top-flight ice hockey after financial trouble forced themselves and Scottish Eagles to drop out of the Superleague this season.

Three other clubs have shown an interest in joining the new set-up, with negotiations advanced with two of them.

"Empowering UK-born players is the cornerstone of this new venture
League statement
Possible interested parties include Findus British National League champions Coventry Blaze and Basingstoke Bison, plus Bracknell Bees, currently in the Superleague but who have applied to join the FBNL next term, and Cardiff Devils.

A team in Glasgow could also be reformed.

The idea behind the new league, which would be established for the 2003-2004 season, is to nurture the sport at grassroots level in Britain.

A league statement said: "The decision to create this new league has been taken with the best interests of ice hockey in the UK in mind.

"The league expects to feature around 50 British players during its first season, with the stated intention for this figure to increase year on year."

Clubs are also keen to establish a new league so that they can have greater control over players' wages and conditions.

Giants back on track
23 Feb 03 |  Northern Ireland
Bees sting the Giants
21 Feb 03 |  Northern Ireland

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