The Nottingham Lions have announced that they intend to remain in NIHL Division Two North for the forthcoming 2013/14 season.
The Lions were crowned league champions back in March after finishing five points clear of their nearest promotion rival but they have decided to decline their option to make the step-up to Division One hockey this coming September.
“It’s been a very difficult decision but the main factor behind it is mainly the development of our players and the financial burden – it’s key that we take those potential trip hazards seriously”.
Bradbury’s squad would have faced numerous road trips to far-flung destinations such as Solway, Whitley Bay and Billingham next season, putting a massive strain on their finances and the personal circumstances of their amateur players and volunteer coaching staff.
Nottingham would also have faced an uphill struggle to compete with the financial clout of some of the division’s bigger teams and Bradbury was honest about the Lions’ chances of keeping-up with the big boys, adding;
“It is a bit of divide – you’ve got the top four, top five clubs in Division One and realistically we would be a bottom four, bottom three team next season and do we want to take that gamble where we are set to lose a considerable amount of money with the travel and it also wouldn’t give us the opportunity to blood our younger players.”
“We’ve got a crop of young talent coming through and by taking this decision to stay where we are we will be able to develop our talent further and it’s key to the development of hockey in Nottingham.”
Last months EIHA meeting attended by all NIHL clubs saw Nottingham lead a proposal to form a new ‘Central’ league, which would have sat alongside the current North and South divisions.
Potentially, the new league would have cut travel times and costs for all teams, increased participation and aided development of local talent as well as creating more local derby clashes but the plan failed to achieve enough support to be ratified, thus making up the Lions’ mind to stay where they are.
Nottingham are not the first team to make a decision like this as just a few days earlier, Division Two South champions Oxford City Stars also declined their promotion to their respective next level for almost identical reasons given by the Lions.
Bradbury still remains positive however and believes there is still a very bright future for the club, adding;
“We’ve got ambition but we’re being realistic – we didn’t expect to win the league last year but we put together consistency, we put together youth and experience and we were able to develop at the same time.”
“It’s easy to be critical of what we’ve done but at the end of the day we’re using our home grown talent and we’ve got to be proud of that achievement.”
“We’ll put together a strong team again, we’ll work together, we’ll develop ice hockey in Nottingham and then we’ll evaluate and see where we are at the end of next season.”
Despite not making the move to the next level, Nottingham will be looking forward another season of exciting local derby clashes against Sheffield Senators and Solihull Barons alongside fresh opposition in the form of recently-relegated Trafford Metros and the newly-formed Widnes Wild.
So don’t forget to keep checking www.nottinghamlionsenl.com over the coming days and weeks for all the latest signing news as the Lions’ roster begins takes shape with another exciting season approaching.