LATEST NEWS: Confusion reigns in the world of British ice hockey

Phantoms owner Dave Lane.

Phantoms owner Dave Lane.

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Phantoms owner Dave Lane says he is ‘monitoring the situation closely’ as concerns grow for the future of the second tier of ice hockey.

The city outfit are one of seven clubs expected to play in the newly-named Premier Ice Hockey League from 2017-18 onwards. That league is a replacement for the English Premier League (EPL).

No more derbies against MK Lightning for Phantoms.

No more derbies against MK Lightning for Phantoms.

But it has emerged that an email from Ken Taggart, the chief of the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA), who are responsible for all levels of the sport except the Elite League, was sent to bosses of those clubs earlier this week recommending they apply to join the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL).

The NIHL has previously served as the third tier of the sport, but that could now change if the new league does not get off the ground.

Swindon and Hull have already followed the advice of Taggart, but no other clubs have yet confirmed publicly that they have done so.

Phantoms have not yet applied and it is understood they have until a May 7 meeting of the NIHL to do so.

The situation is somewhat complicated by the fact that Peterborough Islanders have won the Division Two South (East) title in the NIHL this season - an achievement which gives them the right to be promoted into Division One if they so wish.

Lane, who owns Phantoms along with wife, Jo, said: “We’re monitoring the situation closely.

“We’re in discussions with other teams and leagues and as soon as something is concrete, we’ll let everyone know.

“There will definitely be ice hockey in Peterborough in 2017-18 with the club competing at the best level it possibly can.”

The EPL was reduced to nine teams during last season when Manchester Phoenix folded with several weeks of the campaign still to go. Two of those, Milton Keynes and Guildford, are stepping up to the Elite League.

That left a cluster of seven sides made up of Phantoms, Basingstoke, Bracknell, Telford, Sheffield, Swindon and Hull.

The NIHL Division One South boasted nine teams last season - Bracknell Hornets, Chelmsford Chieftains, Invicta Dynamos, London Raiders, Milton Keynes Thunder, Oxford City Stars, Solent Devils, Streatham and Wightlink Raiders.