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Plans being finalized for annual world club competition to begin in 2008

The plan was originally floated in April and IIHF president Rene Fasel announced during the World Hockey Championships in Moscow a month later that an agency had been hired to conduct a feasibility study.

The agency, Ovation AG, submitted a report to the IIHF and the top European leagues on Thursday.

"The study was completed in June and it came to a very positive conclusion that there is a substantial potential for top-class European club hockey competition and that there is interest from fans, sponsors as well as from broadcasters," Fasel said. "The vision we presented in April is now a concrete goal for the 2008-2009 season.

"The next major step is to sign a three-year contract with the top European national federations and their leagues, which we plan to do this November. We need this time to put together the contract."

A five-stage, 60-game format for the Champions Hockey League has been presented to representatives of the governing hockey bodies from the Russia, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland.

Total CHL prize money will be 16.9 million Swiss francs (nearly C$15 million). The first CHL final will be played in two games, home and away, in January 2009. The winner is to get an additional C$873,000, and the right to play an NHL club for the Victoria Cup.

The first Victoria Cup game or series of games is being proposed for September 2008 with Europe represented by a team or teams from the existing European Champions Cup competition, which will be staged in St. Petersburg, Russia, Jan. 10-13 next year. The Victoria Cup would also carry "a substantial financial reward."

As of 2009, the European team or teams for the Victoria Cup will be taken from the new CHL.

The first Victoria Cup event will coincide with the IIHF's centennial anniversary.

The trophy at stake will be named after the Victoria skating rink in Montreal, which the IIHF recognizes as the birthplace of hockey because of an indoor game played there in 1875.

"The Victoria Cup will be a joint venture between the IIHF and the NHL and will be the first annual world club competition for a trophy endorsed by both the IIHF and the NHL," said Fasel.



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