Northern Ireland news

Ice hockey season suspended due to Covid-19

The Odyssey Trust, which owns the Stena Line Belfast Giants, has confirmed that the forthcoming ice hockey season has been suspended due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Picture by William Cherry/Presseye
Marie Louise McConville

THE Odyssey Trust has confirmed that the forthcoming ice hockey season has been suspended due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Due to start on December 5, the Elite League cannot go ahead due to current government guidelines on mass gatherings, social distancing and restrictions around travel.

Over the last six months, The Belfast Giants have been working alongside the other nine teams in the League to facilitate a return to play for the 2020-21 season.

However, the club has been unable to find a model that is economically viable, meets all government guidelines and is safe for fans and players.

With a 10 team league now not viable, the possibility of some other form of ice hockey potentially taking place in the UK in early 2021 is being looked into.

Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Odyssey Trust, which owns the Stena Line Belfast Giants, said it was "fully committed to safeguarding the future of the Belfast Giants and will prepare to return for the 2021-22 season, but Covid-19 still poses a very serious threat to our business".

"We are doing everything we can to mitigate this threat, but we also need government to step up and provide vital support to protect the future of our industry, which contributes so much, not just in significant economic impact but also as part of the cultural and social fabric of our city," he said.

Steve Thornton, Head of Hockey and Commercial, the Odyssey Trust assured fans that "we will do everything possible to bring ice hockey back to this amazing city at the earliest possible opportunity and that we will work hard to keep the Belfast Giants family connected, through a range of fan initiatives and events, which we will be announcing soon".

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