BRACKNELL Bees have left the English Premier Ice Hockey League to join National League South One.

Basingstoke Bison, Swindon Wildcats and Peterborough Phantoms have also made the switch at a time when many clubs are looking to cut their costs.

The EPIHL collapsed when only seven teams expressed an interest in competing next season and they were then advised to join the NIHL.

Three of last season’s Bees squad have already left the club with imports David Gaborcik and Martin Pavlicek joining French second division club Dunkerque, while Josh Tetlow has moved to Elite League side Nottingham Panthers.

Director Matt Fettel announced last month he was standing down.

Bees will be one of 12 teams in NIHL South Division One, which is being split into two.

They will play in Conference A along with Basingstoke, Cardiff Fire, Milton Keynes Thunder, Oxford City Stars and Solent Devils.

Conference B will consist of Chelmsford Chieftains, Invicta Dynamos, London Raiders, Peterborough, Streatham and Swindon.

Teams will play others in their own conference twice home and away, and teams out of conference once home and once away.

There will also be a cup competition with Bees taking on Basingstoke, Peterborough and Swindon in Group B. The season will begin on September 2-3 and finish on April 7-8. In a statement, Bracknell Bees said they “would like to thank fans, sponsors, partners and players for all of their patience and support.

“We are looking forward to the new challenges ahead in the NIHL South One and will bring you all the relevant information for the upcoming season, such as ticket and season ticket prices, player signings, sponsorship and partner agreements and fixtures.

“We would also like to thank the NIHL South member teams and the EIHA for acceptance into the league and the constructive way all those involved have met the challenges head on in forming this new league structure.”

After more than six hours of discussions with clubs last weekend, NIHL South League manager Richard Carpenter said: “It was a long day, a difficult meeting, but we reached agreement on the way forward for next season and beyond.

“There are no perfect answers or deals to such a highly complicated situation, but we would like to thank all teams involved for reaching a deal to the betterment of British ice hockey.”

He added: “There are wider whole-NIHL issues which will be discussed after the North section next week, but we’re pleased to have carried out this task of integrating the former EPIHL clubs into the NIHL structure and agreed a format.”

Next season Bracknell Hornets will be playing in NIHL Division Two which reverts to a single division of 13 teams, playing once home and away.