The government has confirmed this evening that ice hockey in England will receive £2.7 million of government funding in the latest round of the Sport Winter Survival Package.
The support will be formed of £2.3 million in loans and grants provided to four English clubs within the Elite League – Coventry Blaze, Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers, while £400,000 in grants will also be provided to the English Ice Hockey Association and English clubs in the National Ice Hockey League.
For the past 20 years, ice hockey has been the biggest attended indoor sport in the UK and is the third most-regularly attended sport in terms of spectators.
The funding will cover essential costs necessary for the sport’s survival and to get back playing, including the launch of the 2021 Elite Series.
The series is helping some of Great Britain’s players prepare for May’s World Championship in Latvia.
The funding has already allowed some National Ice Hockey League clubs to also resume action, supporting local ice rinks in the process.
Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston, said: “This unprecedented support for ice hockey will act as a lifeline for the sport and ice rinks across the country. The reality is that without stepping in, it would have meant 18 months of no live action.
“Visibility is important to inspire the next generation, so I’m delighted that we’ve been able to work with the relevant bodies to develop a new proposal that supports the highest level of the sport through the Elite Series, and has also given clubs at regional level the confidence to return to the ice.”
Tony Smith, Chairman of the Elite Ice Hockey League, said: “(We are) thrilled to be able to get back on the ice with the backing from amongst others – the teams, the government and (when the action starts) the massive army of fans that follow us.
“In an ever-changing landscape caused by the pandemic, it is testament to the collective power that everyone pulling together can bring that we are going to stage a four-team top-flight event which will give fans something to cheer.
“At the same time, the best players in the country will get a chance to compete for a place on the plane to the World Championship. Without this series, the GB players could have landed badly under-prepared for games against the world’s elite.
“A tremendous amount of work and commitment is going on to make this event happen and we thank everyone for their support.”