Last night a big crowd packed into The Ridge restaurant in Swindon for the Wildcats first fan forum of its kind. Wildcats Managing Director Steve Nell, Head Coach Aaron Nell and Supporters Club Chairman Paul Norbury attended to address the fans about the current structure of the league.
With the earlier announcement regarding the new Premier Ice Hockey League commencing in the 2017-2018 season, much of the attention was focused on the league meeting between the remaining owners held on Sunday 26th February. Steve first addressed the question of the name change, by simply informing the fans removing ‘English’ from the title will allow any possible expansions into Scotland or Wales in the coming years and will make it significantly easier to attract possible future teams.
The general feeling amongst the room was positive, when asked if the standard of hockey will drop with the reduction in imports Steve was able to reply by saying the previous game against MK was played with just four imports a side and it was one of the most entertaining games of the season thus far. The British standard of player has improved significantly and with a greater depth across teams this year it would prove as entertaining as ever before.
Whilst the subject of a salary cap was risen, it was highlighted that there needs to be a smaller gap between the budgets of the teams at the top end of the new PIHL and the bottom end of the PIHL, to help bring these sides more competitive.
Speaking about how the changes will affect his recruiting, Aaron was quick to point out this is something he and every coach in the PIHL will be dealing with. He will have to recruit around the rules and is committed in putting the strongest possible roster together for the 17-18 season.
The evening then moved away from the focus of the new PIHL and to matters within the Swindon organisation. Sally Price stepped to the floor and provided an update on the current search for a title sponsor which had begun in earnest and encouraged anyone in attendance to help the search for a lead sponsor. It was then announced a few new ways the club had been approaching some exciting marketing strategies with some consultancy from an outside company.
To conclude the evening, Supporters Club Chairman Paul Norbury stepped up to the floor to take the occasion to thank the fans for the support in the SWSC’s first season under his guidance. With over 200 members it has been a very good season and one in which the SWSC will be keen to build on over the summer and into the next season.
The overall message from the club was positive with March Madness information would be announced soon and communicated with all the fans in the coming week. The evening was concluded with Steve Nell thanking the fans for attending and their support throughout the season as we head closer to the play-offs.