Indeed it has. October, in fact. Anyways, I’m back and ready to “Break friends and alienate people” as it were.
You see, there are those out there who seem to think that because I now don’t pledge my allegiance to any one specific team in the UK, that I have now given up any right to have an opinion of what goes on within the sport. Well, sorry to upset you all (because I know you won’t be able to resist reading this), but my blog, my rules. If I want to express an opinion about the sport in the UK I damn well will. And I’ll use whatever language I see fit to do it. So, don’t like my opinions? Click your way off to another site. Don’t like me using “foul language”? Well boo-fucking-hoo.
So, whats been bothering me lately…
Well, the whole Edinburgh Capitals/Murrayfield Racers/Hull Pirates clusterfuck with the EIHL. Quick recap for those not up to date:
Back in November 2017, mid season the Edinburgh Capitals operating company went bust (just like the Phoenix did), and rather than wave after wave of opprobrium, they were simply allowed to carry on under a new name with the same owner… who was now on his 4th operating company in the last 10 years. Come the seasons end and understandably enough Murrayfield Ice Rink put the ice time contract out to tender. They had 2 bids. 1 was from Scot Neil (4th operating company for the team), and the other was from David Hand (head of the SIHA, brother of Tony Hand). Now, based on Scot Neils previous form and the content of the bids the rink chose to award the ice time to the new bid by David Hand. This was to be the Murrayfield Racers, reborn for the 21st century.
So, the Racers applied to the EIHL, who currently hold the franchise rights to operate an EIHL team, as the Capitals had to hand it back when they went bust. The Racers were refused, without even being offered the chance to present their case. WHich, if you ask me was a bit “odd”. Almost as if the EIHL had already been preparing for a while to replace the Capitals. Anyway, there has been a bit of back and forth between the 2 entities, culminating this week in the news that the EIHL actually attempted to bribe Murrayfield Rink into voiding their contract with the Racers and awarding it to Scot Neil. Yes, I said BRIBE. The EIHL offered Murrayfield rink an actual cash sum (£50k allegedly) to void a perfectly legitimate contract and award it to someone they knew had serious issues with his ability to run a business out of their premises.
And where do Hull Pirates fit into this unholy mess? Well, it would seem that at some point in the past few months (my guess would be early in the year), they had applied to and been accepted into the EIHL for the 2018-2019 season. The problem? Well, there is a certain amount of uncertainty over the future of Hulls rink, and unless they get clarification then they can’t step up. So they have asked for (and seemingly been granted) a 12 month waiver. And this is the point where the EIHL offered its bribe. However, someone at Murrayfield Rink actually has morals, and has refused to void the contract. The net outcome is that the EIHL has to run with 11 teams next season, and the fans in Edinburgh have no team.
Now, there are those who are laying the blame solely at the feet of David Hand. Nope. I disagree with this entirely. The reason Edinburgh doesn’t have a team for next season is down to the EIHL and it’s constant support of Scot Neil. The EIHL has effectively propped up the Capitals to maintain league numbers for years. They knew he wasn’t able to successfully run the team, but rather than try something new (The Hand bid), they chose to close ranks and further propagate the “old boys club” view of the EIHL. And I’ve herd all sorts of “reasons” why. Apparently the Hand bid only had £150k of cash to start up. Well, as a start up capital it certainly isn’t the most, but I’d wager it is at lest as much, if not more, than Scot Neil has. And for covering start up costs, £150k will get the ball rolling. If the EIHL wants new teams to prove they have the cash to make it through the season from day 1, then they are likely to never be able to add another team to their league ever again.
The whole situation reeks of the bullshit politics that keeps the sport small time in the UK. After our national teams biggest success in 25 years, the countries top league is openly playing silly political games to try and gerrymander who is involved with their exclusive club, and who isn’t. And it is sickening. A fanbase is left without a team (not for the first time in recent memory) thanks to self interest and short term thinking. Who is to say that the Racers couldn’t have been successful where the Capitals were not? Of course, this being British Ice Hockey, I’m sure we have plenty left to run on this situation. Hell, I’m still half expecting them to accept the Racers rather than force teams to have “blank” weekends for home fixtures. But, we shall see.