SWINDON Wildcats player-coach Aaron Nell has called on the government to approve a funding application made by Ice Hockey UK which would allow hockey to restart in the new year.

With the British Elite League having already made the decision to cancel their 2020-21 season early, hopes of ice hockey being played around the UK now rests on the shoulders of the National Ice Hockey League and Scottish Hockey League.

British Basketball recently received £4 million to start their league next month, and the Wildcats player-coach is hopeful his sport will receive similar support when the answer to Ice Hockey UK’s application comes back.

Revealing to Adver Sport that the Wildcats rely on fans attending games for around 75 per cent of their income, Nell said a league meeting next week should hopefully give some more positive news with regards to a restart.

Nell said: “We want to start with fans because their support means so much to us and we can’t really start without them without financial help.

“Bringing crowds in makes up about 75 per cent of our revenue as a club, so it would be a hit on all the team’s businesses, but we would be willing to get going if we could get some kind of government funding.

“We believe we can safely implement social distancing and the proper flow of fans around the arena.

“We’ve looked at all situations, and if it were to be a situation where it was 33 per cent capacity, we would be willing to get started.

“I believe a lot of the other teams in the league would be willing to get started too.”

The Wildcats have been without hockey for well over six months now, but a return to normality is beginning to arrive in parts, says Nell.

Swindon will begin training in full this week after ice hockey received elite sport status from the government.

However, Nell reiterated his belief that competitive games would not be played unless the sport received some good news soon.

He said: “All summer, we’ve been sat waiting on announcements and being told what to. The players are raring to go, but the way things are going, it feels a bit more negative.

“We’ve been able to train in small groups for the last couple of weeks, but we’ve just been given elite status which means we can start to train as a full squad from tonight.

“We’ll have about half the squad training this week, and we’ve got a couple of players signed that we haven’t announced yet.

“But we’re all just sat here waiting for news on whether fans are allowed back and what kind of funding we might get – if any.”