OXFORD City Stars say they are devastated after being forced to quit the new English Ice Hockey League 1 structure.

Just two weeks after clubs voted unanimously to adopt a new format, a dramatic day ended with the Stars left with no option other than to withdraw ‘through no fault of our owners, fans or players’.

They urged the league, in a statement, to revisit their strategies, admitting the changes have left the ‘sport in turmoil and the club at risk’.

Stars were told yesterday morning that Solent Devils and Chelmsford Chieftains had requested to drop out of the new-look set-up.

That meant there would be just one league rather than two in the second tier of the EIHA, a change that would come at a major financial cost for the clubs – something Stars could not commit to.

“Oxford City Stars' directors and management were informed the league was switching from the previously unanimously-agreed twin conference system to a league of 12 or 11 teams, playing each other twice home and twice away,” their statement said.

“The requirement to complete as one league was raised by Oxford and a few other clubs as impossible during the six-hour long league meeting on May 7.

“Our financial position has not changed in the weeks following this meeting.

“We were informed that the Conference System we had signed up to would be changed to a one-league structure due to the resignation of other clubs, meaning a significant expenditure of additional resources would be needed to compete in this new structure.

“Oxford City Stars informed the EIHA that we would be unable to commit to this set-up and urged them to find a solution.”

The statement went on: “The EIHA has since informed the directors that there is no further solution and the club would therefore be withdrawn from the league.

“We repeat, Oxford City Stars are eager to hear any options that enable us to continue playing and hosting the sport in Oxford and we would urge the EIHA to revisit their strategies.

“Our sport is in turmoil, our club is at risk and we urge the EIHA to act for the future of ice hockey in our city.

“We find ourselves, alongside Solent Devils and Chelmsford Chieftans without a league to play in currently, through no fault of our club owners, fans or players”

“Both (directors) Russell (Shrives) and James (Schall) are devastated with this situation.”

The news comes just 24 hours

after the club announced the first of what they were hoping would be many exciting signings.

Darren Elliott put pen to paper to stay at the club for a 17th season, eager to enjoy more success with his home-town club.

Head coach Simon Anderson was delighted to re-sign an influential figure.

“He is real leader, with presence both on and off the ice,” he said.

“Darren’s been the heartbeat of this club for years.”