CHL re-launch scratched

Leagues, key clubs say no to long-term commitment

09.03.2010
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The ZSC Lions Zurich and Metallurg Magnitogorsk played in the 2009 Champions Hockey League final. Photo: Bongarts / Getty Images

ZURICH/ZUG – The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and its long-term marketing partner, Infront Sports & Media decided today that the efforts to re-establish a Pan-European league will be discontinued as the necessity for a long-term commitment and the IIHF’s and Infront’s vision is not shared by the leagues and clubs to the required extent.

In December 2009, Infront was exclusively mandated by the IIHF to develop, a proposal for a re-launch of a Pan-European club league together with the representatives of the top European Leagues.

The Champions Hockey League played its inaugural season in 2008-2009, but was forced to cease operations for the 2009-2010 season due to the worldwide financial situation.

Over the period of the past three months a long-term proposal for a re-launch of the Champions Hockey League was developed under the leadership of the IIHF and Infront. This was carried out in close collaboration with representatives of the European national leagues.

75 percent of income allocated to leagues and clubs

The proposed plan for the new CHL included a revised competition format based on an initial format of eight teams and 14 games for the first three seasons involving the national champions from the leagues of Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Slovakia and Sweden. The overall prize money would increase significantly over time and be linked to the growth of the League.

The CHL would be operated by an Infront-led joint-venture company, in partnership with the IIHF, a new major commercial partner, as well as with the Leagues and Clubs (with a 16.5% share) as minority shareholders. The purpose of this structure was to secure long-term financing and a profit-share model for the participating national leagues and clubs. 75 percent of the CHL’s distributable income would have been allocated directly to the participating leagues and clubs.

Although the majority of the leagues in principle agreed on the new 3-plus-6-year concept, the negotiations ultimately failed as various leagues insisted on an unconditional exit option after the first three seasons. It is the IIHF’s and Infront’s position that the proposed compromise, would not provide the league with the necessary stability to properly finance, operate and market a new CHL.

Long-term commitment a pre-condition

IIHF President René Fasel said:

“We deeply regret that we had to take the decision to discontinue our efforts for a CHL re-launch due to a lack of a clear long-term commitment from the leagues and clubs, which has always been a precondition for the success of this league. It is impossible to build an international league in an economically sustainable way without stable backing. Although the new proposal is fairly balancing risk and return for all parties, a few members of the European ice hockey family do not share our long-term vision.

“Keep also in mind that we were prepared to make a significant financial contribution to both the CHL and to those clubs, who were deprived of 2009-2010 participation due to the cancelled season. I would like to thank all parties who invested a significant amount of time and resources to develop the new CHL concept. It is our opinion that it had a lot of potential to be very successful.”

Philippe Blatter, President & CEO of Infront Sports & Media said:

“Infront kept its promise and has helped in developing a viable CHL format and was willing to take the main financial risk. With the new, long-term concept, all parties involved had the chance to shape, develop and harvest the league as co-owners. A very unique and innovative chance has been passed on. We had furthermore secured a new major investor and we had received clear indications that other sponsors and broadcasters were ready to invest if the CHL would restart in 2010. As a result of today’s decision, millions of Euros will not be invested in European club ice hockey.”


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