THE Elite League has distanced itself from Paddy O'Connor's suggestion he continued to bankroll the Newcastle Vipers in the second half of last season.
However, after amicable talks between the two parties, the matter has been put to rest to concentrate on keeping top-level ice hockey in the region.
The claim by O’Connor in Saturday’s Journal that he continued paying the bills after resigning as chairman in January has been disputed by league chairman Eamon Convery.
However, with the club’s very existence in doubt, the leading players seem to have realised a prolonged period of finger-pointing would be counter-productive.
Convery said: “It is acknowledged Paddy has made considerable investment both financially and in terms of time and energy with the Vipers franchise and it is unfortunate things did not work out for the best for Paddy or the club,.
“The Elite League has made significant financial support available, not only over the course of this season but in previous years wherever possible. It is with regret the Elite League had to assume operational control of the Newcastle franchise in January of this year in order for it to see out the season.
“We deemed that to be in the best interests of the supporters and sponsors who had invested in the club and also the players and staff who would have been adversely affected had the club ceased operation in January, as would have been the case due to Paddy not being able to continue his support.
“Since Paddy ceased operating the club in December 2010, there has been no direct investment in the on-going operation of the club.”
The league’s price for eventually filling the void left by O’Connor’s departure was a transfer embargo which prevented the Vipers reaching the end-of-season play-offs, which were concluded at the weekend with Nottingham Panthers’ victory.
Although some are unhappy at that part of the league’s involvement, Convery insisted they will do everything in their power to keep the ailing franchise.
He added: “The situation in Newcastle has been difficult for everyone involved and there is no guarantee the club will survive.
“We are looking at all possible options to keep an Elite League franchise in North East England.”