Scholes Telford Vision Pipedream or Reality?

When a new owner comes in high expectations always follow. After years of struggle, uncertainty and very hard work by supporters the Telford Tigers were rewarded with a new owner and cash to strength this seasons side with. However Wayne Scholes is exceeding many fans hopes with his own vision.

Telford may have finished bottom of the EPL for last the two seasons but Scholes wants to take the Tigers into the Elite League alongside the likes of the Coventry Blaze, Nottingham Panthers and the Belfast Giants.

It is a bold statement and Scholes and the Tigers will have obstacles to overcome that seem difficult to over come. For instance there is the Telford Ice Rink. The building underwent a major revamp 12 months ago but still has a seating capacity of just 750 although standing room is available. This would be by far the smallest rink in the EIHL and with the Tigers renting the building ticket sales would need to make up a large proportion of the income for the team. This income would also need to cover the higher wage demands and greater travel costs incurred by the top league.

There is also the fan base. Scholes did not put a time frame on his ambition but did say as soon as possible. In theory that could mean next season if the Elite League would allow them to enter however that does not give the team long to grow their fan base further. The Tigers have taken hits on their fan base and were hindered by being forced to take a season out 3 years ago. Whilst the loyal fans and the supporters club have kept the team going this base is still small. Success in the EPL will grow this and a lack of competition from other professional sports teams in the area will help. But if Telford were to move up they would be placed in the stronger Erhardt Conference alongside last season’s top 5 teams. This would make wins and success hard to come by again.

It is admirable to have the ambition and passion Wayne Scholes is showing. Telford’s history of boom and boost is a warning though. Scholes’ dream of having the Tigers in the EIHL is not as much of a pipedream as it at first seems. The low capacity of the building is a major hurdle but with standing room a full house may be comparable to the average attendances elsewhere in the EIHL. The fan base too shows potential and there are possibilities to expand it. All this though needs to be done slowly and carefully to end the cycle of boom and boost seen by too many clubs.

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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