Clifton Wrottesley has been appointed as a Director and the new Chair of Ice Hockey UK.
Following an open advert and competitive interview, Wrottesley will replace Richard Grieveson who announced he was standing down back in December.
Wrottesley is a former Olympian, representing Ireland in skeleton at the Winter Olympics. During the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, he served as Chef de Mission for the Irish team.
“I’m deeply, deeply honoured to have been chosen to be the new Chair of Ice Hockey UK,” said Wrottesley. “I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the outgoing chair, Richard Grieveson. He presided over the organisation during a period of sustained success on the ice for the GB Men’s team.
“It’s a hugely exciting time for Ice Hockey UK and Great Britain, as well as the sport nationally, as we work towards preparing our men’s team for the World Championship due to take place in Latvia in May and June this year.”
Wrottesley was chair of British Skeleton from 2012 to 2015 and was a board member of the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association between 2012 and 2019. He is still involved in overseeing the British Skeleton high-performance team.
“In all honesty, I want to build on Richard’s legacy,” Wrottesley continued. “Our sport has been through a period of massive dislocation, largely because of the pandemic that has affected so many people’s lives inside the sport and indeed across the whole country. Our very best wishes go out to all those that have been affected by it.
“We’ve also witnessed significant upheaval in terms of the sport’s governance, which has come under intense scrutiny in the last couple of years and rightly so. The Elite League, Scottish Ice Hockey and the EIHA are affiliate members of IHUK and they’re governed and operated under separate structures to Ice Hockey UK. However, they are our responsibility to work in partnership with to promote the sport we all love so dearly.
“We will, of course, work closely and hand-in-glove with them to help them achieve their goals. It’s our responsibility to represent them, both nationally and internationally, and that is what we should and will do. We should also reach out to other areas of the sport to help represent them nationally and internationally.
“I’ve already discussed with my colleagues that I’d like to see the Ice Hockey UK board work towards structuring a more diverse board and leadership team, representing all stakeholders appropriately and actually helping our stakeholders achieve those same goals.
“Along with the focus on a Return to Play, Ice Hockey UK will also be leading in the process to make the UK’s National Governing Body fully fit for purpose, so that we’re considered as a compelling partner, both within our sport and for those that would like to join us, either as affiliates or commercially.
“We’ve already heard from the National Development Head Coach, Tony Hand – and the GB Programme Board – about a Return to Play for all of the GB junior teams in June and July this year. I’ll also be discussing with my fellow board members other ways in which we can help with the Return to Play process.”
Wrottesley has a number of plans he would like to see implemented in the coming years by Ice Hockey UK, including more focus on the women’s game, as well as setting up a national academy and the potential for scholarships.
“I’d like to see Ice Hockey UK take the lead in looking to expand the women’s game,” he said. “We’ve really only scratched the surface of what’s possible here.
“Also, I’d like to set up a scholarship or bursary fund to provide grants for families who don’t necessarily have the financial resources for ice hockey. I’ve already had discussions with various people about setting one up and think we could get to a critical mass pretty quickly.
“One idea that I’ve been mulling around with a few people is establishing a national academy set up in the UK. We’d examine best practice from around the world to find out what would work best in this country.
“Commercial, marketing and communications is another important area – we need to shine a spotlight on the commercial value of the sport so that it gets the recognition it deserves.
“I want to have a chat with venue owners and managers to put together a facilities strategy. I’d like to think that we as the UK’s National Governing Body can forge a close relationship with the rinks and ownership groups to allow better access to ice hockey stakeholders
“Finally, I’d like to think that the one area of the sport that IHUK should excel at is high performance, elite. So, I’d want to almost immediately explore how to best support the existing men’s team in the upcoming World Championship – and beyond – bringing through the next generation of players to join them.
“And one final word. I know we’re all going to get behind our boys when they take to the ice for the first time against Russia in Riga on Saturday 22nd May. In case we can’t be there in person, let’s wish them all the very best.”
Wrottesley’s appointment will be confirmed at the next IHUK AGM, currently planned for April 2021.