The EIHL, United Kingdom's top ice hockey league, has decided to suspend their 2020-21 season due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The league was scheduled to kick off their season on December 5th.

The main reason why the EIHL suspended the season is because they need fans in attendance to ensure the league runs smoothly, and so teams can gain revenue in order to pay their players. This is the case in many sporting leagues across the world that don't have big T.V. deals, and survive on ticket and concession revenue.

EIHL chairman Tony Smith discussed the decision today:

“We’ve been very open that we need to have fans back in our arenas for us to begin playing again. We operate around 75% to 100% capacity at our venues and this is the level of crowds we would need in order to go ahead at any point, which isn’t a realistic option right now."

He went on to add his desire to have the league begin hopefully at some point in early 2021, only if the government eases current restrictions on large gatherings. Currently, the UK government has a restriction on large gatherings. No more than 30 people can gather in one setting.

"We are looking into the possibility of some form of top level ice hockey in the UK potentially taking place in early 2021. This could start in late January or early February and go through into late June, but may not include all teams and again this is dependent on crowds being allowed back inside venues."

The EIHL was founded in 2003 and consists of 10 teams across England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Several NHLers spent time in the EIHL, especially during the 2012-13 lockout where players such as Matt Beleskey, Paul Bissonnette, and Anthony Stewart played.

The league has gained a bit of publicity here in North America after the first English-born and trained player named Liam Kirk was drafted into the NHL by the Arizona Coyotes, 189th overall in 2018. Kirk currently plays for the Peterborough Petes in the OHL.

Source: EIHL
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020  (10H28)
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