Ice hockey fans won’t know until later this month how the 2018-19 is going to shape up.
The Elite League is down to 11 teams after the decision to reject a bid from a revived Murrayfield Racers to take over the spot held by Edinburgh Capitals who now have nowhere to play.
And it is clear the top flight league is preparing for life without a club based in the Scottish capital.
A statement issued today said the league ‘’had no choice’’ but to move on without the Caps’ organisation which has long been its weakest link.
It is now considering all options, and any announcement won’t come until nearer the end of May.
Capitals demise and Racers’ failure to win an EIHL franchise impacts directly on the Gardiner Conference which Fife Flyers won last season.
It was key to keeping Fife and Dundee in the league this time last year when both clubs hesitated over commiting.
One year on and Stars have made a huge drive to generate significant season ticket sales and started team building, while Fife, on the cusp of the club’s landmark 80th anniversary season, have yet to make any announcements regarding coaches or players – a silence that has started to frustrate many fans.
Rumours of Hull Pirates taking the vacant 12th slot to maintain numbers continue to circulate, but the demise of hockey in Edinburgh means there will be a re-think of the conference structure.
The three conferences could become two of six, while a decision to run with 11 teams would mean a complete overhaul.
The league statement said: ‘’Following the decision to reject the application from Murrayfield Racers to join the Elite League in 2018/19, the EIHL Board of Directors will now turn their attention to the future operating structure of the league.
‘’With no ice time contract in place between the Edinburgh Capitals and Murrayfield Ice Rink, the Elite League has no choice but to move forward without the Capitals organisation.
‘’The board is now considering a number of options relating to participation and format ahead of the next Elite League Board Meeting on May 22.’’
It added that a final decision on the league format for 2018/19 - and, interestingly, subsequent seasons - is expected to follow.