Statement Regarding Manchester Phoenix
Below follows a statement from Silver Blades operators of the Altrincham Ice Dome and the future of the Manchester Phoenix and senior ice hockey in Altrincham, Manchester.
On Saturday the 4th April Silver Blades Altrincham issued a statement relating to the operation of the senior ice hockey team at the Silver Blades rink in Altrincham. There were a number of factors that led to the statement being issued as detailed below;
â€¢ Neil Morris used the money from the juniorâ€™s to finance the senior Manchester Phoenix team during the 2014/15 season. This occurred without the knowledge or agreement of the junior club. As a result the Manchester Phoenix incurred significant debt with the rink in relation to the junior ice time even though the juniors had made payment in full to the Manchester Phoenix.
â€¢ The juniors are now no longer part of the Phoenix organisation and are a completely separate legal entity making payments directly to the rink rather than through the Manchester Phoenix Senior Team. It was agreed that the debt for junior ice time remained with the senior club and is currently outstanding. The juniors are debt free.
â€¢ The Manchester Phoenix have paid Â£2250 per game since 2007 and have never been subject to a rate increase in the eight seasons since the rink was opened. This price included all training ice and a permanent changing room for the duration of the playing season.
â€¢ Neil Morris communicated over the 2014/15 season that the Manchester Phoenix would terminate their ice time contract after the playoffs and that he had secured other potential venues to host the Manchester Phoenix. After Silver Blades Altrincham explored all options with Neil Morris a new ice time contract was offered to the Manchester Phoenix in March 2015. The fee proposed was Â£1800 per game as well as continuing to include training ice and permanent changing room through the season. Silver Blades Altrincham felt that the best way it could support the Manchester Phoenix and help the team to grow was by this 20% reduction in facility hire.
â€¢ Neil Morris was asked not to put season tickets on sale until an ice time agreement had been signed as we did not want fans to be charged for season tickets without an agreement being in place, however this request was ignored.
â€¢ When rumours began to spread regarding new ownership of the Manchester Phoenix, Silver Blades Altrincham contacted Neil Morris in writing to clarify the position in relation to the new investors and indicated that if new investors were being bought into the Manchester Phoenix then Silver Blades would like the opportunity to meet with them prior to any finalisation. This is considered normal business practise by ice rinks and has never caused an issue in the past.
â€¢ Prior to the statements released by Manchester Phoenix and Red Hockey Limited on the eve of the playoffs Neil Morris denied to Sliver Blades Directors and senior management team that an agreement had been reached with any potential investor. No formal notice was given to Sliver Blades regarding the change in ownership despite assurances from Neil Morris that if there were any changes then details would be provided to Silver Blades prior to it being announced.
â€¢ Once the announcement was made that Red Hockey Limited owned 34% of the Manchester Phoenix we had no option but to undertake due diligence on Red Hockey Limited and its associated companies, including those in the United States. The information is publically available through credit reference agencies, both in the US and the UK.
â€¢ The situation deteriorated over Friday after the announcement of the new shareholder as it was clear to us that we were being forced to accept the change of ownership however Silver Blades were unable to confirm if Red Hockey Limited were aware of the Manchester Phoenix financial arrears and the fact there was no signed ice time contract.
â€¢ Invitations were made from Silver Blades Altrincham Directors to meet with all shareholders / directors of the Manchester Phoenix on the Saturday morning of the playoffs through Neil Morris however this invitation was declined by Neil Morris on behalf of the Manchester Phoenix including the new shareholders.
â€¢ Through an English Ice Hockey Association official we informed the CEO of Red Hockey Limited that the Manchester Phoenix did not have an ice time contract in place. This information did not result in the offer of a meeting being accepted.
All of the above are points of fact which can be substantiated by written evidence. Whilst it is not appropriate to publish the evidence Silver Blades will make it available to representative groups such as the Supporters Club if there is any dispute of the above or if needed for legal guidance.
The current position is that there is no ice contract in place between the Manchester Phoenix and Silver Blades Altrincham.
Early Saturday evening it became clear that that there was no option but to issue the press release after Neil Morris was verbally abusive to the Managing Director of Silver Blades, Mark Johnson. This incident happened prior to the Manchester Phoenix / MK Lightning game when he was making a last ditch effort to get Neil Morris to agree the proposed ice time contract. This was witnessed by a number of people and has been circulated on the internet.
Whilst Silver Blades is aware that the press release would cause considerable concern amongst Ice Hockey fans we felt it was important to get the information into the public domain given that both Red Hockey Limited and Manchester Phoenix have powerful media options. It was also our intent to notify fans of the changes in circumstances prior to purchasing season tickets.
It was disappointing to see the Directors of Red Hockey Limited refer to Silver Blades using bullying tactics and retweeting tweets which could be considered inflammatory or implied legal action would be taken.
Subject to league approval there will be an EPIHL team playing out of Silver Blades Altrincham which will not only provide a pathway from junior into senior ice hockey but provide inspiration and opportunity for all members of the community to get involved. We will release more information throughout the summer and will look to engage with the community at every opportunity.
Mike Petrouis / Mark Johnson
Silver Blades (Altrincham) Limited
In reply the Manchester Phoenix have issued this statement.
Manchester- The Manchester Phoenix have enjoyed a long and successful history of playing superior ice hockey in the EPIHL.
Recently, others have attempted to tarnish our reputation and interfere with our contractual relationships. We would like to categorically state that there has not ever been any misuse of any funds by the Manchester Phoenix.
Furthermore, we have continuously engaged in good faith negotiations regarding the rental of ice time and are happy to continue on that basis.
However, we do not believe that it is productive to respond to false or misleading statements in this forum. Rather, we leave it to our fans to look at the available information, our history with the team and the fans, and make their own evaluation.
Regarding our ownership structure, we are a private company and that is generally non-public information. However, because we believe in transparency, and because we are proud of our association with Red Hockey, who have accomplished great things this year, we made some of this information public.
However, the majority ownership of the Manchester Phoenix, as well as the management structure, have not been changed at all. As far as we are concerned it is business as usual.
The Manchester Phoenix plan to play in the EPIHL next season and for a long time to come.