SWINDON Wildcats will not defend the NIHL South One title they won at the weekend next season following confirmation that they will compete at a higher level in 2019-20.

The Cats were crowned NIHL South One champions on Saturday night following a 4-2 win at home to Bracknell Bees, sealing a first league championship in their current guise.

However, over the weekend, the English Ice Hockey Association confirmed that a new league structure would be in place for next season.

Following a meeting of NIHL clubs in Warwickshire, the creation of a new 10-team division was approved to sit above the existing Division One sections in North and South.

Swindon will compete in the National League alongside Bracknell, Basingstoke Bison, Hull Pirates, Leeds, Milton Keynes Lightning, Peterborough Phantoms, Raiders, Sheffield Steeldogs and Telford Tigers.

Paul Hayes, director of the EIHA Senior Leagues, said: “It was a very positive meeting and the conclusion of several weeks of consultation and dialogue between the league management and our clubs.

"The structure agreed is something of a step back to move forward, but it will be a sustainable model at all three levels with competitive games in all divisions.

"Myself and the NLMG are grateful to the clubs for their patience, support and input into the process and we look forward to an exciting end to our current NIHL season and starting work towards the 2019-20 season."