SLOUGH Jets joint-owner Ghislaine Kozic admits rising costs have forced the club into English Premier Ice Hockey League exile.

Jets have been one of the most successful clubs in the EPIHL since its formation in 1997, winning the play-offs on three separate occasions.

They were expected to mount another challenge for silverware this year, but a whirlwind season saw ex-head coach Slava Koulikov and several members of the star-studded locker room leave The Hangar in November.

His successor Craig Moran did his best to uphold their play-off challenge with a new-look team without any real experience.

But, ultimately, Slough lacked a cutting edge and finished bottom of the division, missing out on the end-of-season finale.

And now, Kozic has opened her heart on the decision to demote the club into English National Ice Hockey League Two, where they will compete as an amateur, junior club next season.

She explained: “It is very sad news but it’s very difficult to carry on. This year has been very stressful after what happened in November. It’s almost a miracle we managed to keep going for the whole season.

“It’s been a very difficult two years with problems that are very hard to solve, and there comes a certain point where your passion and drive has to be reasonable.

“For the past four years our average attendance has been 350-450, but we’ve still lost huge amounts of money. We’re in it to win, but you need money to do that.

“We tried everything to raise the attendance but it’s hard to maintain, even when we were successful and winning championships.

“We have also lost sponsors in the economic climate and the ice rink has become more expensive.” Kozic also cited the rising player costs as a reason for the shock announcement last Friday, but thanked Moran for his efforts to restore pride at The Hangar.

She said: “The price of players has become more expensive. British players are asking for huge amounts of money year after year and that makes it difficult to forecast a budget. It’s all about money with some of them these days.

“You have to believe you can win and take pleasure from it, but when you don’t it takes huge amounts of energy from people behind the scenes. It is stressful and they work hard.

“It is a shock but we had to come to this decision. The volunteers are exhausted and do not feel appreciated sometimes.” The joint-owner added: “We are very grateful for what Craig has done for us this year.

“Finishing bottom of the league is not a fair reflection of his quality. I think he is a very good coach because it’s very hard to find players who can regularly put up a fight.

“We had some really nice youngsters who, to a certain level, showed more passion and it made for more exciting games and that is a huge credit to Craig.” **PICK up a copy of the Observer, out now, for all the latest sports news and action including an exclusive interview with Zoran Kozic of Slough Jets** **FOLLOW the Observer on Twitter at @Observer_sports**