VILLACH, Austria – At a meeting with Austrian and Slovenian clubs and representatives of their national hockey bodies, the “Inter-National-League” (INL) was founded.
Seven club teams from both nations join forces to play a competition with 36 games for each team plus play-offs one tier below the EBEL league, which includes the top teams from both countries.
The new league will include four Austrian teams – EHC Bregenzerwald, VEU Feldkirch, EHC Lustenau and EK Zell am See – and three Slovenian teams: HK Jesenice, Slavija Ljubljana and Triglav Kranj.
It was created as a solution mainly for semi-professional hockey in both countries.
In Austria seven out of 11 teams from last year’s second tier (Nationalliga) had left the league. Dornbirn and Innsbruck were accepted one tier above in the EBEL league while other teams either folded or decided to leave for regional amateur competitions. With only four teams remaining, semi-professional hockey threatened to disappear in Austria.
Also in Slovenia the situation got worse. A multi-national competition below the EBEL league with teams from Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia will not be continued and Olimpija Ljubljana was left as the only Slovenian team in the EBEL league since Acroni Jesenice went close to bankruptcy with debts totalling more than €2 million.
The club that combines for 32 national titles in Slovenia and former Yugoslavia now plans to have a re-launch one tier below with a new legal entity and more homegrown players.