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Oxford City Stars can confirm the NIHL have penalised the club for postponing our home fixture against Invicta Dynamos on December 18th due to COVID-19.

The club has received the following sanctions:

*Match award 0-5 to Invicta Dynamos.

*Three points deduction.

*£150 fine.

*Invicta eligible to charge costs.

In a statement the Oxford City Stars board said: "We are extremely disappointed by the penalties imposed by the NIHL.

"With COVID-19 in our camp and a strong sense of general unease within the squad we were left with no choice but to postpone the match. We have robust COVID-19 protocols in place at the club and believe we took the right course of action on the day.

“On the morning of the fixture one of our netminders tested positive for COVID-19 and our other netminder was awaiting the results of a PCR test and was displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Our U18 netminder has a broken hand and despite contacting other clubs to seek an emergency loan of a netminder we were unable to secure one.

“With time against us we took the decision to contact Invicta before the club and its supporters were due to travel and seek an agreement to postpone the fixture. They were understanding of the situation and appreciated we contacted them before they were due to travel. We intended to reschedule the fixture; however, the league have awarded the points to Invicta.

“We fully understand the importance of fulfilling fixtures and the league’s desire to maintain the sport, but without a netminder and a lack of time to source one ahead of Invicta travelling meant we were left with no choice but to take the action we did. The pandemic is unpredictable and understandably challenging for all clubs to manage.

“We are disappointed we were not given the opportunity to rearrange the fixture and by the additional penalties of a three-point deduction and £150 fine.

"It is clear more fixtures will be impacted due to the pandemic across the sport and clubs will not be able to cope with further such penalties. The Stars alongside several other clubs wrote to the league to express our disappointment and to request clarity on COVID-19 protocols. On January 5th we all received COVID-19 guidance from the EIHA for the first time on what to do if a club is unable to fulfil a fixture due to the pandemic.

"Our fundamental priority throughout the pandemic remains the health and wellbeing of everyone associated with our club and we will continue to make decisions that we believe are in the best interests of our club.”

After announcing the details of penalties that been imposed on a number of clubs, the NIHL said in a statement on its website: “We work closely with Sport England, DCMS and Public Health England regarding up-to-date guidance that affects our sport and the ability of teams to play games.

“Each request is looked at individually with the specific circumstances provided by the respective clubs and using the latest guidance it is our belief that the games could have gone ahead as planned.

“The situation is evolving and guidance is changing on a regular basis which we will follow and apply to each case as it arises. While protocols are in place for games to go ahead as far as possible, the over-riding principle is to provide a safe and competitive environment for everyone involved and where it is correct that games are postponed then this will be sanctioned by the NLMG.”

The “NIHL representative” added: “Our guidance is intended to keep the games on as far as possible and as safely as possible. We are in line with other grass roots sporting organisations such as the RFU and England Basketball in keeping our competitions running while taking sensible precautions around risk assessment, testing and other Covid protocols.”

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