OXFORD City Stars hope the signing of Chelsea legend Petr Cech will not just raise the profile of the club, but ice hockey as a sport too.

The Stars will be the third ice hockey side Cech has played for since retiring from football in 2019.

He initially signed for Guildford Phoenix later that year, and then spent last season with Chelmsford Chieftains.

READ AGAIN: Chelsea legend Petr Cech signs for Oxford City Stars ice hockey side

The 41-year-old goalkeeper-turned-goaltender, who holds Chelsea’s clean sheet record, is now set to wear the Stars jersey in the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) Division 1 South, the third tier in Britain.

Shane Moore, head of hockey operations at the Stars, outlined what Cech’s signing will mean to the club.

He told this newspaper: “It’s blown up – we’ve had so many messages and reactions online, which has been incredible to see.

“It’s great for the club, there’ll be people who didn’t even know about the club and there’s an opportunity to raise the profile of ice hockey.

“It’s hard to put an exact number on it, but what I saw when Petr signed for Guildford Phoenix was that attendances went up to 900, and that was in the league below us.

“Having two football teams in Oxford, I’m sure we’ll get new fans and it’s our job to convert them into long-term fans.

“At Chelmsford, they were getting an extra 100 to 200 going, and we’ll try to replicate that.”

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Commercially, the move is expected to be a handsome one for the Stars, with the club set to take advantage of increased ticket sales and merchandise, plus further sponsorship opportunities.

Moore said: “It’s the same as all the players, we have replica jerseys and I’ve no doubt this will be one of the top-selling products for this season.

“We’ll also have some other things, like signed pucks, to do all we can to capture this opportunity we’ve got.

“Petr knows this and that it’s an attraction point of view, and he’s more than willing to help with signings.

“Ice hockey is a minority sport in this country so having a sporting icon come aboard means we can attract a new generation of fans.

“What new supporters find is that when they find out about it, they love it, so having someone like Petr will attract people to go and see a game.”

On the ice meanwhile, Moore hopes that Cech’s arrival will provide a boost both from a playing perspective and in the dressing room.

A serial winner in his football career, Cech lifted every club honour possible with Chelsea during 11 years at Stamford Bridge.

“Having that winning mentality and professionalism in the team is really exciting,” said Moore.

“A lot of it is how he carries himself, and there’ll be a lot of players who will be looking up to him, but it’s got to be in the right way and not getting star-struck by him.

“One player doesn’t make a team so from a team point of view, the goals are to grow and gradually rebuild.

“This is a gradual rebuild project for Oxford and we want to be climbing into the top four.

“That was the aim before we signed Petr and it’s the same aim now.

“Petr will help us with our targets, but he’s just one piece in the puzzle.”

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About the author

To sign up to Liam’s latest Oxford United newsletter for free, click here: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/newsletters/

Formerly the politics reporter for the Oxford Mail, Liam now covers all things Oxford United.

Liam attends the U’s home and away, as well as covering other big sports stories across the county.

His Oxford United newsletter is released every Saturday morning at 6am.