Fans raise £20,000 needed to save Bracknell BeesBy Alan Manicom
May 19, 2009
Stuart Robinson and Katie Eleftheriou look set to save Bracknell Bees for a second time following their impassioned plea to big-hearted fans.
The pair have raised in excess of the £20,000 they need in supporters’ pledges to run the club next season.
Robinson, who first stepped in with Eleftheriou to prevent the club from going under 18 months ago, said: “This proves there is a massive will for English Premier League hockey to remain in Bracknell.”
And he promised: “We will sit down and talk about where we are financially and mentally and make a decision.
“The league AGM is on Sunday June 7 and that is when the structure is set for the season.
“The Nike Group need to know what we are doing as soon as possible, while Katie and myself need to know too in the next day or so.
“Katie has been a star and I would not have gone through the last 18 months without her.
“We have been lucky in that we have been to all our sponsors and new sponsors and things are holding up in that end.
“But we have to make sure the other elements are covered.
“I do not feel personally that asking for pledges is a sustainable way to run an ice hockey club.
“But this option is a way of guaranteeing hockey for another year.”
Eleftheriou and Robinson originally felt that the financial risks in the current economic climate were too great for them to commit to continue running the Bees.
But following the withdrawal of a local businessman from negotiations to take over the Nike Group’s operating licence, the pair had a change of heart and appealed to supporters for the £20,000 to cover the expected shortfall.
Robinson said: “We have to be 100-per-cent certain in our own minds that it is achievable under the current economic climate.
“The biggest variable is the crowd. The fans have been outstanding and we need that support.
“We will try to make sure we put together an attractive team that will hold its own in the league.
“But our aspirations have to be more realistic in the light of the teams that are being put together by other EPL clubs.
“I cannot talk about the coaching and playing situation other than to say that with so many players and coaches available, we are looking at a fresh start.
“We have had preliminary fact-finding talks with prospective coaches to see if they would be interested and those discussions have gone well.
“And what players who come in will be dependent on who is appointed coach.”
Last season’s player-coach Adam Bicknell announced he was quitting two months ago.
He grew disillusioned with the demands of the job and plans to devote more time to his family and concentrate on playing. He has also intimated that he would be wary of re-signing for an uncompetitive Bees.
Robinson has ruled out trying to persuade Bicknell to reconsider his decision.
He said: “Bicks made it quite clear how he felt and I respect his wishes too much to put him in an awkward situation by asking him to coach again next season.”
Whoever takes over will face a massive rebuilding operation.
Bees’ defence will need to be assembled almost from scratch following the departures of Sam Oakford (to Basingstoke Bison), Adam Greener and Jan Melichar (both Slough Jets) and Joe Baird (Swindon Wildcats).
That leaves Scott Moody as the only senior professional to have patrolled the blue line for the club last season.
In attack, Bees have lost their two top scorers from last season – Joe Greener and Peter Jasik. They have been snapped up by Slough’s new head coach Peter Russell.