Sheffield Steeldogs, Hull Pirates and Leeds target Cup start for 2021-22 NIHL National season

SHEFFIELD STEELDOGS, Hull Pirates and Leeds look set to start the 2021-22 season by taking part in the NIHL National Cup - should they choose to do so.

WE'LL MEET AGAIN: Leeds and Sheffield Steeldogs hope to be able to face off against each other again from September onwards. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The NIHL National Owners Group today released a provisional schedule for the 2021-22 campaign, including start dates for the regular league season, playoffs and the traditional ‘Final Four Weekend’ in Coventry.

Clearly any season will be dependent on government plans for bringing lockdown restrictions relating to the pandemic to an end and whether they remain on track to meet the timetable set out by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this year.

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Leeds owner Steve Nell said it was important to keep fans updated as much as possible.

Leeds, under new ownership, and Hull Pirates will hopefully lock horns again in September. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“We need to communicate with the fans and keep them in the picture,” said Nell, who took over at Leeds last Friday and who remains managing director at Swindon Wildcats.

“The communication we’ve had between all the owners has probably been the best it ever has been over these past 12 months.

“The pandemic and the knock-on effects of it have brought us closer together. The whole thing about our league is that as teams we’re only in competition on matchdays, at weekends - the rest of the week, we’re partners. We all need each other to make it work.”

All 10 NIHL National teams have confirmed their intention to take part in the season and, as it stands, the Cup competition – which is optional – will start on the weekend of September 4-5, concluding on September 26.

The regular 52-game league season - which again will see teams split into North and South Conferences with Leeds alongside Hull, Sheffield, Milton Keynes and Telford – will begin on the weekend of October 2-3 and finish April 2-3.

All teams will play conference opponents four times home and away, and teams from the other conference twice home and away.

The post-season playoffs get underway on April 9-10, with the playoff semi-finals and final at Coventry’s SkyDome Arena set to take place over the weekend of April 30-May 1.

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