European hockey teams are one step closer to creating an alliance between the clubs in hopes of bettering the quality and conditions of the European game, as well as “safeguard the interests” of the teams.
In total, 48 teams from 13 countries were represented at a meeting earlier this month to discuss the possibility of forming the Alliance of European Hockey Clubs, or EHC, and the participating teams at the meeting in Dusseldorf voted unanimously to “provisionally form a club-led alliance.”
At the initial meeting, which was led by former NHLer Hakan Loob, Marc Luhti, the CEO of Swiss team SC Bern, was named the interim president of the organization while the EHC takes steps to officially become an alliance.
“This meeting was a strong indication that the leading clubs of Europe are interested in an organization which is founded by the clubs, for the clubs and run by the clubs,” Luthi said in a release.
The EHC’s formation was undertaken, in part, by Loob, who spent five months looking into the possibility of forming such an alliance. Loob, currently GM of SHL team Farjestad, began the process in February 2015, and only just now have the clubs taken the first step in forming the EHC.
The interim board has 10 members, which includes former NHLer Jiri Slegr, now president of the Czech Republic’s HC Litvinov. There are also representatives from Germany’s DEL, Finland’s Liiga and Great Britain’s EIHL, among others.
Watson.ch’s Klaus Zaugg spoke with Luhti, who said the hope is that the European clubs will be able to “speak with one voice and so can bring their influence at various levels.” The EHC wouldn’t be much different from other organizations formed in European sport, such as soccer’s European Club Association and basketball’s Euroleague. The goal of the organizations is to have an important voice at the table in discussions involving the sport, and the EHC would likely seek to play a role in decisions made by the IIHF.
“By being unified around some key issues and by being well organized, the football, handball and basketball clubs have increased their influence in various international bodies for the overall benefit of their sports,” Loob said in a statement. “European hockey clubs have been somewhat late in this development, but their time has come now.”
The EHC will take its next step towards formation in mid-April when they meet to “determine the structure and define priorities for the alliance.” The alliance is hoping to set a founding date for mid-June, according to a release.