ZURICH – The new Champions Hockey League held its first General Meeting where it also unveiled the new logo and a major TV deal.
It was the first formal meeting of the shareholders consisting of the International Ice Hockey Federation, six founding leagues from six countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland) and 26 founding clubs. All shareholders were represented at the General Meeting held in Zurich on Thursday.
The interim board proposed to re-elect all nine members and no other candidates were nominated. The board members were unanimously re-elected and the members later also re-elected Anders Ternbom as chairman.
Representing the Clubs:
Anders Ternbom, SWE, chairman
Petr Briza, CZE
Timo Everi, FIN
Peter John Lee, GER
Peter Zahner, SUI
Rupert Zamorsky, AUT
Christian Feichtinger, AUT
Gernot Tripcke, GER
Kalervo Kummola, FIN
The re-elected board also announced the first four staff members who will be working in Zurich where the organization plans to rent offices at the headquarters of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Martin Baumann, who brings with him vast experience in managing businesses in international environments from the finance industry, was presented as Managing Director.
Szymon Szemberg, who has been the Champions Hockey League Project Leader during the interim period since the Barcelona Hockey Forum in 2012 and who has been working for the IIHF for the last 13 years, was introduced as Chief Operating Officer.
Former Färjestad Karlstad head coach and club manager Bo Lennartsson, who has been working for the European Trophy, was appointed Sport Director.
Patrick Jost, who was involved in the Champions Hockey League in 2008/2009 working for the then commercial partner of the league’s first edition, will be the new Marketing and Event Director.
The shareholders also approved the budget, which foresees balanced accounts with a small profit. “It is the board’s ultimate goal not to dip into the shareholder money,” Szemberg said.
He also said that it’s the goal to re-establish the Victoria Cup between C.H.L. winner and NHL team in collaboration with the NHL and NHLPA. Another goal is to use the C.H.L. as a platform to hold workshops in order to increase knowledge in various fields.
Participants finalized by May
The next steps will follow very soon as the clubs of the 40-team competition will be finalized within the next two-and-a-half months.
The 26 founding members are set as A-licence teams with multiple-year participation providing that they fulfil a number of pre-conditions including being a member of their country’s top league in 2014/2015.
The Founding Leagues and its Founding Clubs:
- Austria (EBEL): Red Bull Salzburg, Vienna Capitals.
- Czech Republic (Extraliga): Bili Tygri Liberec, HC Pardubice, Sparta Prague, Vitkovice Ostrava.
- Finland (Liiga): IFK Helsinki, JYP Jyväskylä, KalPa Kuopio, Kärpät Oulu, Tappara Tampere, TPS Turku.
- Germany (DEL): Adler Mannheim, Eisbären Berlin, ERC Ingolstadt, Krefeld Pinguine.
- Switzerland (NLA): SC Bern, Fribourg-Gottéron, ZSC Lions Zurich, EV Zug.
- Sweden (SHL): Djurgården Stockholm, Frölunda Gothenburg, Färjestad Karlstad, HV71 Jönköping, Linköpings HC, Luleå Hockey.
The up to 12 B-licence clubs will be known by the end of April as up to two additional teams from each of the six founding leagues – mainly the champion and the regular-season winner – will be qualified for the C.H.L. In case they are already in as A-licence clubs, other teams from the country such as the runner-up of the regular season, the losing playoff finalist or a losing semi-finalist will take the B-licence spot.
The two to five remaining spots will be filled with C-licence clubs, who will receive a wild card for one year and who will join from other countries. The targeted countries are Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, France, Italy and Great Britain. The countries will be named in March and the contracts with these clubs are foreseen to be signed in May.
13th May is the target day to name the complete list of teams while the C.H.L. draw is planned on 21st May in Minsk, Belarus, during the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
The board also announced that the total prize money will be €1.5 million in the first year including €875,000 that will go to teams as participation fees. The C.H.L. winner will be able to earn up to €160,000.
C.H.L. Chairman Anders Ternbom also updated the shareholders on the ongoing discussions with the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League.
“We are in negotiation with the KHL. We won’t have them in for the first season but we hope we will have a deal signed for the second season,” Ternbom said.
New logo unveiled
During the General Meeting, board member Timo Everi unveiled the new logo for the league as well as graphical examples of merchandise and how clubs can use the new corporate identity.
Everi also explained why red was selected as the dominant colour: “Red seems to be the colour that mostly fits with all other colours. Like that we won’t have arguments about the team colours of the many clubs.”
“We wanted the logo to be simple, cool, buts still classic and European,” said Timo Everi.
Also a landing page was launched on www.championshockeyleague.net where fans can enter their e-mail address to get updates on the C.H.L.
SVT to broadcast in Sweden
Also on Thursday, Infront Sport & Media announced a second major TV deal for the C.H.L. SVT will air all games involving Swedish teams of Champions Hockey League live for three seasons and have the role of the host broadcaster in Sweden.
All games involving Swedish teams will be broadcast free-to-air on SVT2 and SVT24, and on the SVT Play web stream. Also all quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final will be shown.
“In Sweden there is no better platform for hockey than the free-to-air Swedish television SVT,” said C.H.L. Chairman Anders Ternbom. “Needless to say, this is very good news for our league in one of Europe’s key markets.”
Per Yng, Head of Sport at SVT, commented: “The Champions Hockey League is appealing and promising content for our programming plan and we are convinced the new competition will engage domestic audiences. Ice hockey is one of the leading winter sports in Sweden and it is exciting that SVT can contribute to the rise of a new and fascinating competition.”
Bruno Marty, Infront's Executive Director Winter Sports, added: “The outreach of the Champions Hockey League is intensifying. The agreement with SVT ensures significant free TV exposure in another crucial ice hockey market and comprehensive coverage in one of the new competition’s host countries. With its top-class ice hockey production experience, SVT will contribute strongly to catch viewer attention and boost fan fascination for the Champions Hockey League all over Europe.”
Previously, a TV deal was signed with MTV in Finland. MTV Sport1 HD and MTV Sport2 HD will show all games involving Finnish teams and show highlights on the public MTV channel.
Infront Sport & Media, with five employees fully dedicated to the C.H.L., is currently also in discussion with broadcasters in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland.
In his closing words of the General Meeting, Ternbom praised the participation and good atmosphere among the 33 shareholders.
“We are all sitting together united, all stakeholders,” he said. “But the work starts now. There’s nobody else besides us who can create success. We have a good product and must do the branding, tell the consumer that this is the best of the best you can see in the hockey arena.”
Hockey fans will get a first glimpse when the first puck is dropped on 21st August.