Bees could become extinct in Bracknell todayBy Alan Manicom
May 15, 2009
Katie Eleftherou fears that if Bracknell Bees go out of business today there will be very little chance of her resurrecting the club.
Eleftheriou and Stuart Robinson, who runs Bees Ice management Limited, have been working overtime in a bid to get funds in place to meet today’s deadline, which was set by franchise owners, the John Nike Group.
But yesterday Eleftheriou, who has been in charge for the last 18 months, said: “I certainly have not got a significant amount of sponsorship so things have been difficult.”
Eleftheriou has maintained that BIML will only take up the operating licence for another year if there is enough money to see Bees through the season.
A target of £30,000 is needed to meet the estimated shortfall and she admitted: “We are a long way short.
“And if companies are not forthcoming, it increases the risk for us to go ahead and potentially incur significant losses.
“That financial risk will fall on one person – and it is a very heavy burden,” added, Eleftheriou, who as a finance director for a local company, has already put in a substantial amount of her own money to keep the club afloat.
“It is a very difficult position to be in. It is not something that I am comfortable with.
“That is what I am trying to reconcile in my mind.
“While I would love Bees to continue, I am not a multi-millionaire.”
And she added: “If the club folds, the likelihood of us or anyone else getting it up and running the following season or even the one after that will be that much harder.
“You will not get media coverage or the footfall through the door.
“And it would be bad for the whole community if the Bees are not there.”
Fans raised £27,000 to help financially troubled Bees complete the season before last. Eleftheriou and Robinson have resisted the temptation to ask supporters to put their hands in their pockets again.
But that may be seen as the only option as a way of buying time until the summer of 2010.
By then the financial climate may be better and the Nike Group will have 12 more months to find a benefactor.
Eleftheriou and Robinson announced they wanted to step down as licence holders more than two months ago.
They only changed their minds when talks between the Nike Group, who own the rink, and a mystery businessman interested in taking up the licence, broke down over the cost of ice time.
Bees’ English Premier League rivals Slough Jets and Guildford Flames have the benefit of using cheaper council-owned rinks.
But Nike Group director Martin Weddell said: “We always made it clear that there were certain parameters we were not going to flex or compromise on.
“Personally I would like to see the Bees continue, but we cannot put our own business at risk.”
Weddell believes valuable time was wasted, adding: “We have to draw a line in the sand otherwise this would drag on until July.
“Ken Taggart, the EPL chairman has been brilliant, but I am being hounded by the league now about whether we will be competing.
“Even if it is parked for a season and brought back it would not be the end of the Bees.”
And with no other benefactor on the horizon, Weddell believes that is now the most likely outcome.
He said: “I would say so at the moment because we have not got anything on the table.”