Nottingham Panthers must wait to begin their 2020-21 league season after the campaign was suspended today (September 15).
The Panthers were expecting to start the new Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) season on December 5, but the upcoming campaign has been put on pause indefinitely.
In a conference on Monday, all ten member teams voted unanimously in favour of a suspension to the calendar season.
League chairman Tony Smith admitted competitive hockey could return in “early 2021” with “late January or early February” earmarked as a potential date of return.
Speaking to PanthersTV, chairman Neil Black said that he is hopeful of government changes, therefore allowing supporters to return to the Motorpoint Arena.
He said: “Obviously the last week or so the newsflow has not been great, but hopefully things will improve over the next few weeks, month or so.
“There will be a lot of pressure put on the government from the live events industry – including the sports industry – especially from football and rugby.”
Clubs would suffer financial difficulties until venues can host spectators at around 75 per cent.
Nottingham Panthers had an average attendance of around 5500, with more than 7000 attending a fixture against Sheffield Steelers.
With the majority of income coming from match tickets, Neil said it is crucial that supporters are allowed to return to rinkside soon.
He said: “All teams in elite hockey are utterly dependent on fans attending games for their revenues.
“For some teams, that is probably as high as 90+ per cent for their revenues. For some of those that have good sponsorship flows, I would guess it is still a minimum of 70 per cent.
“Unfortunately we are a sport reliant on fans watching so we need them back in the building.”
By Matt Lee
Lead Image: Harry Serpis
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