Media release from FOMIH.

Planning gathering pace for new Manchester Ice Hockey club.

The Friends Of Manchester Ice Hockey (FOMIH) wish to confirm that plans to bring a new ice hockey club to Manchester in time for the 2003-04 season are progressing at a pace.

Potential new investors and sponsors have been contacted and to date, a total figure of future sponsorship in excess of £150,000 has been pledged towards the foundation of a new club. Negotiations continue in the formation of a sensible and viable business plan for the future.

FOMIH, to date the only publicly acknowledged body working towards the future of ice hockey in Manchester, wish to ensure that the sport is re-kindled on a rock solid foundation and is sustainable for the future and therefore, wish to further outline their status.

Since the liquidation of the Manchester Storm in November 2002 FOMIH, amongst other matters, have been active in...
1. Raising funds for the players and staff of the club whose contracted salaries at the time of the Storm liquidating were unpaid.
2. Supporting the junior ice hockey programme at Altrincham in its final months.
3. Arranging travel for former Storm fans to take in hockey games around the country.
4. Raising funds for the future on the back of merchandising and other activities.
5. Assisting the Ice Hockey Superleague at the Challenge Cup Final.
6. Acting as a ticket agent for the ISL Playoff Finals
and
7. Keeping the hope for a hockey future in Manchester alive.

FOMIH have been actively gathering fan support and this continues on a daily basis. This activity has been greatly enhanced by the purchase, from the Storm liquidators, of the entire database of Storm Entertainments Ltd, the former operators of the Manchester Storm. FOMIH Chairperson Neil Morris stated, "We had to be able to progress our plans in a professional manner and so we purchased the database. Trying to track down every former Storm fan or sponsor without it would have been the search for the proverbial needle in a haystack. The information contained within it is now our sole property and we intend to use it judicially to gather support and canvass for members, sponsors, investors etc. Our registered membership is growing daily and the purchase of the database has given us a potential 20,000 extra contacts to follow up on over the coming weeks and months."

FOMIH have already begun to contact local media outlets in the Greater Manchester area for their support to resurrect ice hockey in the city, and the first signs have been very encouraging. Spokesperson Richard Allan noted, "The Manchester Evening News have been very helpful as have other outlets and we are grateful for their support. The first couple of months were hard as direction was a key element - now we have that and we will further channel our efforts and energies into completing the task we have undertaken. Even so, we haven't all the answers - so we openly encourage anyone who thinks they can assist to contact us, No offer of help will be refused, in fact the more the merrier."

Despite the considerable effort already committed to the cause, FOMIH are aware of rumours of other potential bids to launch a new club and therefore would like to make an open statement to any such party or parties.

"FOMIH wish to put it on record that if there are other parties actively planning a new ice hockey club for Manchester, we would wish to talk with them about a single effort. FOMIH want to see a new ice hockey club in Manchester and we firmly believe that one superstrong bid would be better than two (or more) somewhat fragmented bids. FOMIH are perfectly willing to enter into professional negotiations about the future and if an amalgamation of resource and effort is the best path to achieving a future for ice hockey in Manchester, FOMIH stand ready, willing and able to help."

To that end, FOMIH have been in contact with both the Ice Hockey Superleague and the Findus British National League and will base a decision upon the chosen path for a new club until such time as either other interested parties have come to the table and/or the future of the two leagues is decided.

Spokesperson Andy Costigan added, "We all want to see ice hockey back in Manchester, but not for a short term, for the long term. The future has to be prepared correctly, solid foundations laid and the fan base mobilised for the future. It won't be easy and none of the FOMIH Steering Group are under any illusions as to the tasks ahead. However, we feel justified in challenging any other interested party to come to the table and talk with us."

Chairperson Neil Morris added, "To date we have had great support that has encouraged us to continue. That support is growing and we intend to give this cause the very best shot we can. Initial talks with SMG Europe Ltd regarding an ice time agreement for the MEN have begun and upon completion of our advanced business planning, we will seek further discussion time with SMG. However, time will rapidly become a factor, hence this request for any other interested party to show their hand. We are determined to press ahead, but if circumstances determined other parties were better able to achieve our aims, FOMIH would not stand in the way of a stronger bid or plan - on the contrary, we would support a stronger plan."

FOMIH can be contacted via their web site at www.fomih.co.uk
By telephone at 0161 301 6851
or by mail to FOMIH,
126-146 Fairfield Road,
Droylsden,
Manchester.
M43 6AT

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