In the early hours of this morning, Leeds Chiefs released a statement regarding the postponement of today’s fixture. We’d like to give further details as to why this has occurred.
Immediately after last night’s game, our players had a team discussion and then requested a meeting with the MK Ice Hockey Club Board to let us know that they had clear and genuine concerns regarding the risks that continuing to play hockey this season is putting on them and their families.
We met with our Captain and Coaches after the game to consider and discuss the risks that the Covid-19 pandemic is presenting. Although there is currently no governmental restriction on the fixture, as employers we have a duty of care to the physical and mental health of our staff and their families. Our view is that this means we should not play in Leeds today and it is our view that the league competition should be suspended immediately.
In detail, our reasons are as follows:
- The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases is rising rapidly, and the number of deaths has doubled in the latest release of official figures
- Our players have real concerns for their own health and livelihoods and wish to minimise the risk of catching the virus from the inevitable close contact with other players
- A number of our staff have immediate family in primary care jobs and it is not tenable to place these people at risk of infection when the NHS needs them most
- Equally, staff with relatives who are in the ‘at-risk’ category should minimise their social interactions as much as possible to reduce the chance of infecting those who will be most harmed
- If a player is found to have symptoms this is likely to cause our whole team, and the opposition team to need to be isolated so social distancing should be followed to reduce the impact of anyone who does become a confirmed case
- We cannot control the cleaning and disinfection protocols at away venues and therefore have no way of fully understanding the risks to which we are exposing our staff
- Given the widespread level of sporting cancellation at all levels across the globe, it seems misaligned for a league to continue as normal
- The level of worry and concern in our players is a significant risk to their mental health which cannot be ignored
- It is highly likely that there will be restrictions placed on mass gatherings by the government next week, meaning a high risk that our league will not be able to continue anyway
This pandemic is a fast-developing situation, and by late last night when these considerations were made, we had a set of players who are genuinely and visibly concerned about their own welfare and the welfare of their families and teammates. Our Captain Russell Cowley has shared a statement giving the collective view from our players:
“With recent events of Covid 19, we, the players of MKL, met after our game against Sheffield. As a group, we have extremely high levels of concern that travelling would not only put us at risk as players, but more importantly to our young families, pregnant partners, and close contact with elderly family members. It would be selfish of us to even consider putting those around us at risk.
Therefore, as a group of players, we have chosen not to travel tomorrow for the away game against Leeds. Many of us, if any, have never been in a position like this before. Whilst we certainly appreciate that this is far from ideal for Leeds as an organisation, and their players, we aren’t going to make a decision to put life at risk for a game of hockey. Important to us also, is following government guidance, which travelling would only counteract. We hope our fans, Leeds fans and players, share and support our stance in this difficult time.”
We cannot ignore these concerns and that is why we will not continue to play.