Giants owner on sex offenders' list
The owner of the Belfast Giants - whose players and staff have walked away to form a new club without him - has been listed as a registered sex offender in the US state of Florida, it has emerged.
Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Christopher Knight appears on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website, alleged to have committed lewd battery with a minor aged between 12 and 15.
On Monday, it was revealed that drastic action had been taken by the Giants roster and the Odyssey Trust which runs their home venue - in order to distance themselves from Knight.
The players had quit the team en masse, playing out of contract to fulfil their commitments over the weekend, before signing up to an all new company created by the Odyssey Trust.
They now intend to get back to business as usual, with Doug Christiansen still coach and general manager Todd Kelman taken on by the Trust as an advisor.
Kelman moved to reassure fans on Monday, insisting that securing the future of the team had been everyone's priority.
"Everyone's tried to make sure that the focus is on hockey," he told UTV.
"It's business as usual from here on in - we're going to put this behind us."
This has not been an easy period for the Belfast Giants ...
Brian Burke, Odyssey Trust
The Elite League has since issued a statement to confirm that the Belfast Giants will not suffer in terms of their league position over the dramatic developments and the change in ownership.
"The League has been kept fully informed about recent events and the management, coaches and players have the backing of the League following recent events," a spokesman said.
Speaking about the future of the team, Kelman added: "For the fans of the Giants, it's important to know that this is a terrible thing that's happened - but, out of this, a good thing has happened.
"Because we're now secured with the Odyssey Trust backing the Giants.
"We are now going to be owned by the company that owns the facility, which is a great position for a sports team to be in."
It is understood that, while Knight bought a 90% share of the Giants from long-term owner Jim Gillespie in November - for a reported £145,000 - he now owns a team without players or a venue.
The new team, under the Odyssey Trust, intends to play at the arena under the Belfast Giants name.
But Knight claims to retain the merchandising rights and disputes that the Odyssey Trust can simply create a new team.
He also denies the claims about his past and is reported to have told the Belfast Telegraph that he was never convicted of the sex offences in question.
He told the paper that his legal team is trying to have his name removed from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website because it appeared there due to "an error" on their part.