OXFORD City Stars have opted out of a proposed National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) mini-season. 

Clubs were encouraged to apply for funding to take part in a reduced Division One South campaign, which must end by May.

But Stars have told the English Ice Hockey Association they will not compete and will use the time to get ready for 2021/22 instead.

A statement from the club’s board said: “We considered this carefully and concluded protecting the welfare, health and safety of everyone at the club was paramount.

“We understand our supporters will be disappointed, but are sure they will understand it was a decision made for the right reasons.

“In our view it is currently not safe or practical to compete in a short season in the short-term.

“On this basis, we felt it would have been inappropriate to apply for funding.

“We have thanked the league for its efforts to maintain British ice hockey and we wish all clubs who seek to take part in the short season all the best.

“After months of uncertainty this means we can now focus our attention on preparing for the 2021/22 season.

“We hope with the continued roll out of the vaccine that the public health situation will be more positive later in the year.

“We look forward to when we can return and can all watch and enjoy ice hockey properly together again.”

Stars have been on pause since the 2019/20 season was cancelled last March, but the NIHL wants a reduced campaign after ice hockey received an initial £4m from the government’s winter survival package.

While some clubs are understood to have already applied for funding, the Oxpens-based outfit felt uneasy.

Players are part-time and come from as far as Cardiff, Bristol and London, so cannot form a bubble.

Meanwhile, it would take several weeks for Dean Birrell’s squad to get up to speed, with Stars instead hoping to have a longer pre-season when restrictions ease ahead of the anticipated September start date.

Director Greig Box Turnbull said: “As much as we’d desperately love to play again, it doesn’t feel right at the moment.

“It’s actually a bit of a relief – we rarely have the luxury of time, so now we can put more into preparing for next season.

“Rest assured, we’re not going anywhere.”