Uncertain future for league leaders

Thursday, 16th December 2004

The city of Cardiff was once again host to a public protest from ice hockey supporters this Wednesday as the Cardiff Devils took their plight directly to the Council following the unveiling of plans for building work on the site of the Wales National Ice Rink. Home to the Devils since before the inception of the Superleague and the Elite League, the WNIR is to be torn down and redeveloped as a superstore when the lease runs out next year, leaving the Devils without a venue to play from. A new rink is planned at the Cardiff International Sports Village development, but this is not expected to be ready for use until 2009.

Devils Director of Hockey, Shannon Hope, feels that the public demonstration on Wednesday was necessary to highly the plight of the team. The Council have offered to find the team a temporary home until the new venue is built, but both Hope and Devils owner Bob Phillips feel that this is not an acceptable option for the team once their tenure at the WNIR expires halfway through next season. The dispute arises from the lease that Mr Phillips signed on the WNIR, which was allegedly signed on the understanding that a new pemanent venue for the Devils would be made available once the WNIR contract expired. Mr Phillips is quoted on the BBC Sport website as saying: "We signed that lease to facilitate our move to the sports village, not to a temporary shed."

Cardiff's next game is away at Guildford this Saturday in cross-league competition.

By Richard Allan.