Leeds Chiefs next set for face-off at start of 2021-22 NIHL National season

LEEDS CHIEFS will not return to action until September at the earliest after NIHL National team owners agreed to shelve plans for a mini-season and turn their attentions instead towards the 2021-22 campaign.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 6:45 am
Leeds Chiefs haven't played since March 2020. Picture; Dean Woolley.

A handful of second-tier teams have taken part in two separate behind-closed-doors competitions in recent months – the Streaming Series held last October and the recently-completed Spring Cup.

The Chiefs were not involved in either event due to owners Planet Ice believing it wasn’t right “logistically or time-wise” to take part, but they remained open to the possibility of a short season which earlier this year had been proposed to follow on from the Spring Cup.

But that will not now go ahead, according to a statement released by the NIHL National owners yesterday.

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Sheffield Steeldogs prospered in both the Streaming Series and the Spring Cup. Picture: Dean Woolley.

It will come as a blow for Chiefs’ fans who had hoped to see their team back in action sooner rather than later.

The Chiefs haven’t played since March last year when the coronavirus pandemic brought their inaugural season to a premature end.

“The five clubs who played in the Spring Cup looked carefully at the options to continue playing into April and May, but have decided that this is not possible,” said the team owners’ statement. “The NIHL Owners Group has been working together and has agreed that we are now preparing and planning for the 2021-22 season.

“This is a great moment as we start to move on from survival mode into taking the steps back towards more normality in our game. It feels like co-operation and communication between us has never been higher, and this has allowed us to make meaningful progress on the key activities not only to bring our game back, but also to look at sustainability and the long term future of our sport.”

The owners have agreed in principle to implement a wage cap for next season which they believe “will set the foundations for our long-term future.”

They added: “It helps clubs with budgeting and forecasting, which is particularly difficult given the COVID impact on the entertainment industry and uncertainty of how people will want to watch the game when it returns.”

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