Deeside Dragons have been plunged into crisis after a breakdown in negotiations between Flintshire Council and the club’s backers Red Hockey resulted in the local authority taking control of the Laidler Conference leaders.
Red Hockey, owned by businessman Wayne Scholes, assumed control of the Dragons, who play at the Deeside Leisure Centre, in July and, with their financial backing have seen the club enjoy considerable success on the ice thus far this season.
Flintshire Council had been in discussions with Red Hockey since July with regards to investing in the arena and the team but have broken off negotiations, citing Red Hockey’s ‘inability to conclude financial and contractual arrangements.’
The decision has sparked a war of words between Red Hockey and the local authority as casts huge doubt over what the immediate future holds for the Dragons.
“Red Hockey are extremely disappointed with the manner in which FCC (Flintshire Council) have chosen to conduct themselves, having ignored all normal channels of communication and announced their decision to Red Hockey’s staff immediately before Saturday’s game,” said company CEO Scholes.
“We are particularly disappointed for the Dragons staff and fans, with the team being on the verge of a championship win, FCC have acted in a way that can only cause disruption at a key point in the season and cast doubt over the future of a number of vital coaching and team members.
“Whilst Red Hockey have made offers to resolve these issues amicably, the recent behavior of FCC has denied the club and the area the opportunity of substantial further investment, building on the current season of success, and suggests that they are intent on a course of conduct which can only be destructive to the interests of the club and the fans.
“We wish to thank the staff and fans at Deeside Dragons and wish them the very best for the future.”
But Flintshire Council have argued that their reluctance to hand over full control to Red Hockey is down to ensuring the protection of the the club and ice hockey in Deeside and have assumed responsibility for the club with immediate effect.
Ian Bancroft, Chief Officer Organisational Change said: “Since the Summer the Council has been in negotiations with Red Hockey Ltd to develop the ice arena and the team.
“These negotiations have broken down with both parties seeking an exit strategy to conclude relations.
“At all times Flintshire County Council has tried to reach agreement in a positive manner with Red Hockey Ltd.
“However, despite best efforts this could not be achieved given Red Hockey’s inability to conclude financial and contractual arrangements with us. The Council made clear it’s position to Red Hockey early last Thursday after seeking unsuccessfully a number of reassurances through normal communication channels about Red Hockey’s willingness to complete contracts.
“The Council is committed to ensuring protection of the interests of the team and ice hockey in Deeside. Insecurity and indecision about future arrangements would not have helped this to be achieved. As a result, the Council will be supporting the team to move forward with the intention of ensuring its continued involvement in the league this year and the future operation of the team.
“While we are disappointed the relationship with Red Hockey Ltd has not progressed as planned, we will work with Deeside Dragons and the ice hockey league to find the best way forward for the team.”