Wilson applauds import reduction
3rd May 2006
Mobilx Newcastle Vipers player-coach Rob Wilson today applauded the Elite League's decision to reduce the permitted number of imports per team from 11 to 10 for the 2006-07 season. The move by the EIHL, is part of a plan originally agreed back during the formation of the league in 2003 and is the second reduction following a move in the summer of 2004.
Wilson commented: "It's a very positive move for the Elite League and the sport in this country, we played most of last season with 9 imports and competed on a weekly basis with teams that boasted 11 imports. I agree that we had import calibre Brits with the likes of David Longstaff and Jonathan Weaver, however this just proves that given the ice time, the right environment to develop and the opportunity to play against the best this country can offer - you will see some very exciting results. We have been very lucky in the North East, the work carried out by the junior development setups at the likes of Billingham, Durham, Sunderland and Whitley over the years has resulted in the Vipers being able to have one the best British line-ups in the country."
Wilson went on to confirm that the Mobilx Vipers had been a major driving force behind the reduction and believes that there may be a further reduction in the near future.
Wilson commented: "We've been pretty honest with the EIHL since day one, that we believed there should be a reduction either next season or the season after. There was talks at one stage of going down to 9 and we were very keen on that happening, however going down to 10 is a major step forward and I strongly believe we will see another reduction in the next 1-2 years."
The Elite League have today also came to an agreement with DOE regarding work permits. Last season each team was limited to 5 non-EU players with the other 6 imports being made up of 6 EU passport holders, however a deal has been brokered for the 2006-07 which will see the EIHL increase that limit to 9 non-EU players. In addition, coaches such as Wilson will now be able to sign players from the Central Hockey League and United Hockey League in North America as well as European first divisions that are recognised by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Wilson commented: "From a business perspective, this move is a major development for the league. Last season due to the limit on work permit holders and the leagues from which you could recruit, meant that average players became very inflated in value. There are a lot of quality players playing in leagues such as the Central Hockey League, with the recruitment pool being expanded this will give all the coaches the opportunity to go and wheel and deal meaning they are not getting into bidding wars and end up paying over the odds for guys. For smaller budget teams such as Basingstoke and Edinburgh this will allow them to compete a lot closer with teams such as Nottingham and Sheffield - that's only got to be a positive for the standard of hockey".