The International Ice Hockey Federation invites Europe’s top clubs for a re-launch of the Champions Hockey League for the 2011-2012 season. The project is initially for three seasons (2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14) and it was approved last week by the IIHF Council.
The IIHF is committed to work with the national federations, the leagues and the clubs to re-establish the success from the 2008-2009 season, when the Champions Hockey League received universal acceptance from member associations, leagues, clubs, players, fans and media.
The league was cancelled prior to the 2009-2010 season due to the effects of the global financial crisis.
The planned re-launch will include 16 teams divided in four groups, with fourteen clubs (national champion + regular season winner) coming from the seven top-ranked European countries; Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland.
Team 15 and 16 will be the 2011 Continental Cup winner and the defending 2009 Champions Hockey League winner (ZSC Lions Zurich) respectively.
The format foresees a total of 62 games, including a preliminary-group double round-robin, and home-and-away quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. The opening day is September 7, 2011, with the finals scheduled for January 18 and 25, 2012.
The IIHF will provide financing and personnel resources for the implementation of the Champions Hockey League, thus committing to an excess of CHF 1.5 million per year to cover the expenses for league administration and game and league operation.
Furthermore, the IIHF will provide settlement compensation for the cancelled 2009-2010 Champions Hockey League season. (To the clubs which were due to participate in the 2009-2010 CHL).
Note: The payment of the settlement fee is pending confirmation of participation in the Champions Hockey League re-launch project. The implementation of the settlement program implies withdrawal of any legal claims towards the IIHF.
The 2011-2014 Champions Hockey League is constructed on an invitational basis. By way of example: From each top-7 country the national champion and the regular season winner will be invited to participate. If for any reason any of the invited clubs declines participation, the invitation will be extended to the next club in the domestic ranking (playoff finalist or second placed team in the regular season).
“The inaugural Champions Hockey League showed that European ice hockey is ready for a pan-continental league,” said IIHF President René Fasel. “It showed that all stakeholders, primarily the clubs and its large fan base, can be the beneficiaries of this competition which provides an additional value on top of the already successful domestic competition.”
“Europe’s top-fifty hockey clubs attract a domestic league attendance of around 18 million fans per year. Apart from soccer, there is no other team sport in Europe that has this following. Together we are ready to treat this committed group of fans to even more high-quality hockey.”
“We hope that all stakeholders will seize this opportunity and assume this challenge which would set the stage for future growth for this competition and provide a strong sportive and commercial foundation for European club hockey,” says Fasel.