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"Magic 5" Weekend among ideas as Elite League outlines plans going forward

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The Belfast Giants could face rivals the Glasgow Clan at the Elite League's proposed "Magic 5" Weekend in September (William Cherry/Presseye)

The Belfast Giants could face rivals the Glasgow Clan at the Elite League's proposed "Magic 5" Weekend in September (William Cherry/Presseye)

William Cherry/Presseye

The Belfast Giants could face rivals the Glasgow Clan at the Elite League's proposed "Magic 5" Weekend in September (William Cherry/Presseye)

The Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) have announced plans for a "Magic 5" Weekend in Nottingham to start the 2020/21 season after the cancellation of next month's Play-Off Finals Weekend.

The annual end-of-season play-off weekend was cancelled, along with the remaining three weeks of the regular season, last Friday in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Clubs across the EIHL have since been scrambling to get their players - the majority of whom are from North America - back home as borders begin to close across the world.

In the midst of that, the league have continued to have various meetings, via video link, with all 10 teams to determine where to go from here, and the announcement of the "Magic 5" Weekend is the first part of that.

The intention is for the weekend to be played on September 12/13 at Nottingham's Motorpoint Arena, with all 10 teams playing in five games, with three played on Saturday and the remaining two played on the Sunday.

Due to the ever-changing situation of the coronavirus, those dates are subject to change if it is still not viable to play on that weekend, however the league now have a concrete start date to work towards to start next season.

With the addition of the "Magic 5" games, next season will be a 53-game campaign, with teams beginning their regular 52-game season - three home and three away games against every team - following the Weekend in Nottingham.

While the Giants' opponents at the Weekend haven't been confirmed, and likely won't be until nearer the time, the possibility is the league will pit rivals against each other, meaning the Glasgow Clan could be their opponents.

Fans who had tickets for next month's Play-Off Weekend will be able to use those to attend the "Magic 5" Weekend or seek a refund for them instead. Individual tickets for the Weekend will also be made available.

In the meantime, the league continue to meet to discuss other issues, including whether or not a national champion will be declared for the shortened 2019/20 season and how European places will be allocated.

While it is believed the EIHL are still leaning towards not awarding the title to any team, it is understood that has not been decided yet, while the league are still unclear over how to distribute their European places for next season.

Meanwhile, it is set to be a very interesting off-season in the EIHL, with several teams operating on a much reduced salary budget due to the loss of gate receipts late in the season.

The Giants themselves are dealing with a loss of over £250,000 having missed out on five home games, as reported in the Sunday Life, which will no doubt reduce their budget for recruitment during what will be a very challenging period around the league.

Belfast Telegraph