Sheffield Ice Hockey Academy will reach a milestone on Wednesday as a faction within its ranks tries to force a management change amid membership suspensions and claims of divisions.
Junior coach Mike Szollosy claims that SIHA is losing members and not been following its own rules. On Wednesday a vote will be taken on potential changes in those leading the organisation.
Looking on with interest will be Sheffield Steelers, who want to see one organisation pulling together to produce future stars like it did in Liam Kirk and Cole Shudra.
Currently, Steelers have little to do with an Academy only a few hundred yards from their door. But they’d offer coaching and cash if ‘positive changes’ are made.
Steelers’ legend Ron Shudra, who has been downgraded from Academy Head Coach to an assistant at the U15s, has been spotted at the rival Nottingham programme.
There are rumours ‘Rocket Ron’ could join them - along with his youngest son Tate, 13, which would be a blow for Sheffield where Shudra’s name remains a hockey brand.
Szollosy says he and co-member Martin Peters have been ‘suspended’ by chairman Joe Walker.
He claims the constitution stipulates official positions should be up for re-election more frequently then they have been, no AGM has been called for three years, and coaches and quality junior players are quitting.
Mr Walker declined to comment.
“We used to be the country’s biggest academy, but not any more” said Szollosy. “Joe has tried to suspend me but that’s not been brought with the legitimate processes in place. Neil Rushby will challenge for the chair in a Extraordinary General Meeting on Wednesday.”
Szollosy added: “The atmosphere we are experiencing has seen coaches and top-end young players getting fed up and leaving us for places like Nottingham, Sutton and Bradford.”
Szollosy, once a player himself, claims Wednesday’s EGM is taking place after intervention from the sport’s over-arching administrators the English Ice Hockey Association, following complaints to them.
“It is a huge shame that Sheffield kids or coaches are going elsewhere, especially Nottingham because of the cities’ rivalry” said Szollosy.
“Swindon has overtaken Sheffield as the biggest Academy and it is time we followed the procedures we are supposed to do in administration and finance, so Sheffield can move forward.”
Szollosy and other sources say SIHA is no longer a Clubmark (welfare and standards monitor) accredited organisation, despite stating they are on their website.
The Academy, which charges an annual membership fee of £650, lists nine teams under its umbrella.
The Star outlined some of the main gripes to Walker today, but he declined to publicly comment.