In the latest twist to the saga over the European club allocations, Hockey Ireland themselves confirmed they have lodged an appeal for arbitration to Sport Dispute Solutions Ireland (SDSI).
It comes in the wake of three separate clubs putting in separate appeals earlier this week. Lisnagarvey’s challenge to an independent appeals panel was the catalyst, arguing successfully Hockey Ireland’s decision to keep the 2018/19 Euro qualifiers in place was “without reasonable rationale”.
Hockey Ireland have accepted that decision of the appeals panel but say the focus of the final determination was too narrow and did not take into account a wide range of knock-on effects.
“The committee focused on Lisnagarvey Hockey Club’s appeal without any, or insufficient, regard to the consequences of such a change to the broader Hockey Ireland decision,” a statement on the issue said.
“The outcome of the appeal impacts on the decisions, regarding club selections and their ranking, for all of the respective European Hockey Competitions in 2020/2021.”
With the EY Hockey League declared “null and void”, 2018/19 champions Three Rock Rovers had originally been given first spot by Hockey Ireland with runners-up Garvey second.
The Ulster club, however, were runaway leaders of the men’s league with their appeal saying the “best-placed team at the time” of lockdown would be the one to best serve Ireland’s interests and ranking on the European stage.
The appeals panel, however, only ruled on the individual case and did not make a further judgement on what happens next with the women’s rankings remaining the same while fourth place Three Rock retained the second men’s spot despite sitting in fourth place.
As such, both Banbridge – second in the men’s league – and women’s leaders Loreto believe a precedent has been set with the latter hoping to swap places with Pegasus.
Hockey Ireland recognises this disparity and has called for both to “pause” their appeals on hold until their SDSI case has been heard.
To add to the complications, Three Rock have already appealed to SDSI with numerous questions surrounding the protocols of the situation.
The EY Hockey League usually only brings the second Euro seeding with the top spot decided by the Champions Trophy playoffs which were not played.
There is also a question of timelines with the appeals panel sitting three weeks after Hockey Ireland’s Rule 20 would normally allow.
Usually, Hockey Ireland would submit its European entries by July but the European Hockey Federation has extended the deadlines due to the pandemic to September, giving time for all appeals to be heard.