Belfast Giants are under new ownership. Tom and Donna Mallon are now joint owners, along with current owner Jim Gillespie. The Newry couple have been season ticket holders for several seasons.
Mallon is a consultant aeronautical engineer running a Northern Ireland based company, Nacelle Systems Consultancy, which specialises in Aircraft systems design and installation. He said: "My wife and I are delighted with the opportunity to support the Belfast Giants, and everything that they stand for. It has been a great pleasure to work with the management team and lend a hand as the Giants restructure and reorganise for the new season.
"Having seen the plans for the upcoming season, we believe that the enthusiasm and energy displayed by the management team, Steve and Todd in particular, will pay dividends for all the fans. We are already looking forward to facing off against Cardiff on September 6."
The Giants management has been actively seeking local investment to partner with current owner Jim Gillespie. Gillespie has been the sole financial backer of the Giants since getting involved with the team in 2003 and has kept the team solvent over the last few seasons.
Despite an announcement three seasons ago that Canadian businessman Jim Yaworski had invested a significant sum of money to secure the future of the Giants in Belfast, the money never materialised. After three years of waiting, Gillespie and the Giants had to look elsewhere, with a strong preference for participation by the local Northern Ireland business community.
Jim Gillespie said: "I originally became involved with the Giants because I discovered they were making a difference. For the first time I saw a sports team breaking down the barriers that historically have marred spectator sport in Northern Ireland. On one of my visits home, I went to several games in the Odyssey and was pleasantly surprised to see families from both sides of the divide sitting together enjoying the excitement of professional ice hockey. For someone who grew up in Northern Ireland and, in 1948 at a very early age, went through a fiercely traumatic experience at a very infamous sporting event, this was such a heartwarmingly impressive thing to see, people coming together, having a great night out with their families and friends. I decided to get involved."
The new Ownership structure will see Gillespie and the Mallons as 50/50 partners in the Belfast Giants. Tom and Donna are excited about the prospect of being involved with the Giants and believe that the future is bright for the Giants and ice hockey as a whole.
Mallon said: "We love the game and were originally drawn to it because of what it did for the community of Northern Ireland, especially families. It truly has been a game for everyone and over the years it has given our family and our friends plenty to cheer about. When we were approached to get involved with the Giants, we looked into it in great detail. We feel the organisation is moving in the right direction with a management team focused on success on and off the ice and most importantly bringing silverware back to Belfast. Jim Gillespie’s passion for the Belfast Giants instills confidence in the future of the organisation and when the opportunity to come on board was presented to us, we jumped at the chance."
Todd Kelman summed up what new ownership means for the Giants.
"Jim Gillespie is a man like no other I have met. His heart is so big and his generosity stretches well beyond what he has done to keep the Giants in Belfast. I am delighted that he has found a partnership that will hopefully ease the burden that he has carried over the last few seasons.
"Tom and Donna are very excited to be involved and I think having a local team owned by local people will benefit everyone involved with the Giants. Thanks to the Gillespies and the Mallons, the future of the Giants is very bright.
"I am more excited about the upcoming season than any of the eight years that I have been involved with the Giants. It feels like a brand new start."