Milton Keynes Ice Hockey Club Limited has released a joint statement alongside Planet Ice regarding the 2019/20 season.
Earlier in the day, the group were informed that the Elite League would not reconsider its position and would not permit an MK team entry into the top tier for the upcoming season.
The group’s initial release regarding this decision mentioned the possibility of running a team in the newly established NIHL.
The statement commented: “MKIHC will now review the potential for running a Milton Keynes NIHL team in the coming season and consider the option of an Elite League bid for the 2020/21 season. Announcements can be expected through our social media and website channels.”
This appears to now have come to fruition, with MKIHC and Planet releasing the following joint statement:
“After an eventful day, Planet Ice confirm that they have offered Milton Keynes Ice Hockey Club Limited (MKIHC) the opportunity to manage the Milton Keynes-based National Division NIHL team for the 2019/20 season.”
“Furthermore, the team behind “Let’s Play Hockey” have accepted the offer and are pleased to confirm that Milton Keynes will enter the National Division under their management.”
“Since announcing this morning that the Elite League had decided not to award them a place for the upcoming season, the MKIHC has moved quickly to finalise a review of the business model required for NIHL. This has been possible thanks to a close working relationship with Planet Ice.”
“Alongside this, Planet Ice have awarded the Ice Contract to MKIHC who will manage the only NIHL National Division side to play out of Milton Keynes, complementing the current South 1 side - MK Thunder.”
“MKIHC has watched recent signings with interest and will shortly commence discussions with playing and coaching staff previously secured by MK Lightning for the upcoming season.”
“Both Planet Ice and the Let’s Play Hockey team remain committed to providing the best possible level of hockey in Milton Keynes and on seeing through the commitment made to support hockey at all levels at the Milton Keynes ice rink.”
“Anybody who supported the Let’s Play Hockey initiative through the Shareholder or Founder Member schemes or who provided other donations will be contacted shortly.”
“They will be offered the opportunity to continue their support (receiving exactly the same benefits as before but in the NIHL) or they will have the option for a full, no obligation refund.”
“Both schemes will also be extended for those who have expressed an interest in supporting the NIHL endeavours.”
“MKIHC and Planet Ice are saddened to learn that a number of players remain disadvantaged by recent developments. In support of these players, details of a fundraising activity will be made available very soon.”
“Both Let’s Play Hockey and Planet Ice thank the fans for their loyal support and ask that we now concentrate on building an exciting future in a new league and under new management.”
It is currently unclear whether the new team will operate under the ‘Lightning’ monicker, but the group’s statement appears to suggest that the players that were already signed, along with head coach Lewis Clifford, could remain involved for the upcoming season.
Milton Keynes Ice Hockey Club Ltd was established in April 2019 and is not associated with the original incarnation of Milton Keynes Lightning, which has operated since 2002.
MKIHC have worked quickly to raise money that can help them operate the team for the upcoming season and more details will be sure to follow in the coming weeks.