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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 May, 2003, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Elite League "will go ahead"
Sheffield Steelers in action against Cardiff
The Elite League was scheduled to start in September

Belfast Giants chief Albert Maasland insists that the refusal of Ice Hockey UK to affiliate the newly-formed Elite League will prevent it from starting in September.

The sport's governing body in Britain announced on Friday that it would not sanction the new league for which eight teams have already committed.

A statement from Ice Hockey UK said that the new league would "not be in the best interests of the sport in Britain".

Ice Hockey UK remains keen than the former Superleague clubs should merge with the second-tier Findus British National League to create a new league.

However, Giants managing director Maasland said that the development was not a "major worry".

"There are many leagues around the world that are not affiliated with the International Ice Hockey Federation through their local country governing body," said Maasland.

"These include the National Hockey League, the East Coast League, in fact most of the North American Leagues are not affiliated.

We've not been officially told the grounds on why they've refused to affiliate us
Albert Maasland

"We will if it comes down to it operate the Elite League without the sanction although obviously we would like to be affiliated by the governing body".

Maasland said he had been "surprised" by the Ice Hockey UK statement.

"As far as we were concerned, we are still in discussions (with Ice Hockey UK) and we've not been officially told the grounds on why they've refused to affiliate us".

The new format is intended to replace the Superleague which ran into financial trouble this season.

"After careful consideration and much soul searching, the board of directors today decided not to affiliate the Elite League," said Friday's Ice Hockey UK statement.

"The Ice Hockey UK board of directors are of the opinion that the only way forward for ice hockey is the ideal of one strong league.

"Ice Hockey UK has brokered several meetings between the existing Findus British National League and, initially, the remaining teams in the Ice Hockey Superleague.

No agreement has been reached at this time
Ice Hockey UK statement

"Ice Hockey UK was notified on the April 30, 2003 that the Ice Hockey Superleague had called in the liquidators and the league's substantial debt to Ice Hockey UK could not now be met.

"Ice Hockey UK received the first official approach from the Elite League whilst in Croatia at the World Championships, although press releases had already been made by the Elite League stating they were up and running.

"Ice Hockey UK called another meeting between the Findus British National League and the Elite League teams asking them to find a way for the two groups to amalgamate and go forward as one completely new league.

"These talks also failed.

"It was decided to try and come to agreement with the Elite League after another approach was made.

"A deadline of May 30 was imposed. No agreement has been reached at this time. Ice Hockey UK, therefore, has not affiliated the Elite League."


SEE ALSO
Stevens to leave the Giants
09 Apr 03  |  Other Sport
Elite League takes shape
02 Apr 03  |  Other Sport
Elite league gets go-ahead
27 Feb 03  |  Other Sport

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