Jonathan Phillips optimistic Sheffield Steelers will be playing by January

IN what has been a disappointing week for the Elite League, Sheffield Steelers’ captain Jonathan Phillips has not given up hope on being able to play some kind of hockey this season.

Jonathan Phillips playing for Sheffield Steelers v Manchester Storm November (Picture: Dean Woolley)

As had been expected for some time by many fans up and down the country, the EIHL announced on Tuesday that it was suspending its 2020-21 campaign due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

And while the decision to forego the traditional regular season and play-offs may have already been made – the ongoing social distancing rules meaning no crowds are permitted at games – a number of the British game’s top-flight clubs remain committed to trying to stage some kind of hockey.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Two of the 10 EIHL clubs – Fife Flyers and Dundee Stars – have already declared they will not be playing at all until 2021-22, meaning any competition that does somehow manage to get off the ground – in whatever format – will be depleted from the start.

Jonathan Phillips (Picture: Dean Woolley)

By suspending the season, the team owners have essentially bought themselves a touch more time in terms of hoping that the overall Covid-19 situation improves enough in the coming months, to the point that crowds would be allowed back in to watch games in sufficient enough numbers to make it financially viable for the clubs.

And it is that hope – however slim some may feel it is – that GB international Phillips is clinging to, particularly for a veteran who, at 38, is closing in on the twilight of his career.

“We’re just working towards being optimistic that there is something to be done in January,” said Phillips, who has played 14 seasons for the Steelers, captaining them for 13.

“I know the owners and clubs are doing everything that they can to get that going and we’re just waiting on government guidance to say that we can have fans in for that to be made possible.

“It would have been a huge mistake to rule everything out – all potential for hockey – at this stage.

“To be honest, I’ve stayed optimistic this whole time

“I feel it is pointless getting too down about it, you’ve got to try and just hope and then believe in that hope.

“And I really do hope that we can somehow get that January start date.”

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today.

Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers.

So, please - if you can - pay for our work. Just £5 per month is the starting point. If you think that which we are trying to achieve is worth more, you can pay us what you think we are worth. By doing so, you will be investing in something that is becoming increasingly rare. Independent journalism that cares less about right and left and more about right and wrong. Journalism you can trust.

Thank you

James Mitchinson