HULL STINGRAYS fans have been rocked by news this morning that the Elite League club has been placed into liquidation.
In a statement issued on the club’s website earlier today, owner Bobby McEwan said the loss of a major sponsor and the introduction of ice-time charges by Hull City Council at the club’s venue had contributed to the Stingrays’ downfall.
Lower attendances throughout last season – despite a second run in four years to the Elite League play-off Final Four Weekend in Nottingham – had also forced McEwan into his decision.
McEwan apologised to player-coach Omar Pacha, who led the club on its remarkable post-season run, as well as Hull-born captain Matty Davies who missed the latter stages of the season through injury.
It’s unclear what the Elite League’s reaction will be, although they are gathering this week anyway for their annual fixture-planning meeting. The issue surrounding Hull’s liquidation will undoubtedly leap to the top of the agenda and it remains to be seen whether the league steps in to try and establish a team under new ownership in Hull or whether they look to bring in a new team altogether.
Five years ago, the club went bust under former owners Mike and Sue Pack with the owners of Coventry Blaze stepping in to rescue the club to run it for two seasons, culminating in their first appearance at the Final Four Weekend under player-coach Sylvain Cloutier.
“It has been an extremely stressful time for my wife Debbie and I and this is the toughest decision I have had to make in my life,” said McEwan.
“I would like to apologise to Omar, Matty and Carl Lauzon (assistant-player coach) for not being able to build on last season’s success.
“I must thank our loyal supporters for all their backing over the years - I am just sorry it has had to end this way.”
McEwan, who also doubled up as the bench coach alongside first Cloutier and then Pacha, said there had been initial interest from other parties to take control of the club, although talks eventually came to nothing.
“The loss of a major sponsor, increased operational costs, the introduction of ice-time charges as well as the shortage of fans attending our matches have left me with no other choice but to liquidate the club,” said McEwan.
“There had been interest from parties willing to take control of the club but once that failed to materialise there simply was no other alternative.
“Reaching the play-off finals weekend and coming within a whisker of progressing to the final last season filled me with immense pride.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my three years in charge of the Stingrays - it was a dream come true for me. Sadly, that dream has now come to an end.”