The owner of Belfast Giants has been dramatically frozen out amid a bitter fall-out with his players and staff.
Star skaters from the ice hockey team, who play in the Elite League alongside Edinburgh Capitals, yesterday signed for a new company that intends to use the same name and play at the same venue – the Odyssey Arena – but under a different management regime.
US investor Christopher Knight had bought the controlling shares in the Giants last November in a deal reputedly worth £145,000. His reign hit the rocks after just two months, though, when the company that operates the arena, the Odyssey Trust, moved against Mr Knight after claiming “major issues” came to its attention.
In its first intervention at the start of this month, the Odyssey Trust activated a clause in its contract with the Giants over the use of the arena. The trust offered to purchase the Giants’ assets from Mr Knight – apparently for the £145,000 he had invested – but no deal was reached by last Friday, the deadline set by the trust. At that point the trust terminated the holding agreement.
Within hours of that, the players wrote to Mr Knight claiming that their contracts were no longer in effect.
Yesterday the Odyssey Trust formed a new Belfast Giants company, prompting the playing squad and other staff to sign up en masse.