Capitals Raced out of Murrayfield

So it looks like the end of road for the Edinburgh Capitals. After years of it being threatened the loss off ice time at Murrayfield to a would be rival operator looks to have spelt the end for Scott Neil’s Edinburgh Capitals.

The Capitals have been in an almost constant struggle but recent years have not been kind. The Capitals had failed to make the playoffs for 5 years and the 2017-18 season was their worst points tally in team history, 11 points beating their previous worse of 15 which was reached on 3 occasion since their formation in 1998.

Whilst the Capitals have struggled to be competitive in the EIHL the way of their demise is not something that sits well. For someone on the outside it seems hard to understand how it could be allowed to happen. The Capitals’ ownership group Cool House Marketing lost its bid to for ice time at Murrayfield to new group Racers Leisure Limited. The new group headed by David and Tony Hand who are looking to revive the traditional Murrayfield Racers name and enter a team in the Elite League. The snag, of course being, the Hand’s do not have a Elite League franchise that belongs to Neil and Cool House Marketing although it would seem highly unlikely the Elite League would not offer the Racers the opportunity to join.

What may seem baffling to many is why there are two ownership vying for position in a hockey market that has struggled for over 20 years. Like many traditional clubs the original Racers struggled survive and compete with the professional era and Superleague teams of the 1990’s eventually changing their name to Edinburgh Racers then Murrayfield Royals before going out of business and the Capitals coming into existence. The reasons for the current struggles are plentiful.

Edinburgh is a big city and ice hockey faces competition for entertainment pounds from many other attractions as it does in many cities. Add to this an ageing ice rink which has seen little investment to meet modern standards and a product on the ice that has not had enough investment to be successful then it is a toxic combination that only the hardiest hockey fans can stomach. The question therefore should be why the hostile nature of the Racers and why the Hands are not investing in the Capitals as surely all help is needed to push Edinburgh hockey forward.

Perhaps Scott Neil would not sell or not relinquish control enough to the Hands liking. Or maybe, cynically listening to the EIHL conspiracy theorists on twitter too much, the league big boys wanted Neil out in favour of someone more supportive of their cause.

The latter maybe a step too far but it is true that Elite League do not seem to have helped the situation by supporting the Capitals ice time bid or removing their franchise prior to the ice time bid by the Racers Leisure Limited and offering it up grabs. Either would have avoided such a hostile take over that makes the sport look bad to the wider public again and alienates and divides Edinburgh hockey fans.

The Elite League and indeed the EIHA (following the similar Haringey debacle) needs to be stronger in these circumstances and support its franchises. For example no rink operator would give an ice time contract to a company that did not have the backing of the league to be at least considered for a franchise. This is needs to protect its sides and protect the integrity of the league. Something that is held in high regard with sponsors and players and most of all keeps its fans happier.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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