EHF and European clubs moving towards an understanding and a new structure.

Group Club Handball (GCH) has existed since 2006 as an entity representing 19 selected top men’s handball clubs in Europe for the purpose of improving the situation of European club handball more generally. To be more broadly representative in this endeavor, the GCH established in 2007 another entity, Forum Club Handball (FCH). The FCH held meetings in 2007 and 2008 with 54 and 32 clubs participating respectively.

However, there is a need for a more formal dialog with the EHF. Moreover, the IHF has until now refused to meet with GCH or its representatives. Instead, the IHF has itself chosen its preferred participants in meetings on matters concerning club, leagues and players. Presumably in an effort to make clear that there is indeed an entity that represents essentially [u]all[/u] major men’s clubs in Europe, without any ‘hand-picking’, the structure of the FCH is now being formalized.

GCH will remain the entity that organizes or administers the FCH events and activities, but the FCH will have its own Board and a General Assembly. The following clubs are automatically members of the FCH: the 24 best Champions League clubs, the 16 best EHF Cup clubs, the 16 best Cup Winners Cup clubs, the 8 best Challenge Cup clubs, and any national champions not already included among these 64 clubs. There will be a weighted voting system in the FCH, and the Board members will be elected in such a way that the strongest handball countries get a heavier representation.

There will be a FCH meeting in connection with the EHF ‘Final Four’ later this month, and the FCH will then be meeting with EHF representatives to discuss a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) which has been drafted jointly by the EHF and the GCH. This MoU would give formal recognition to the FCH as a partner in future discussions regarding all matters of interest the handball clubs at the European level.

The topics will include the international and continental competition calendars, the time set aside for players to be on their national teams, the compensation to be paid by the national federations, EHF and IHF for such periods, and the related question of insurance coverage. Marketing matters will also be discussed jointly by the EHF and the FCH. The FCH undertakes to ensure that all clubs act in these matters within the umbrella of the FCH and do not form other groupings or act unilaterally. It is also understood that the GCH will withdraw all legal complaints previously filed against the EHF.

The existence of such an MoU should ensure that there is a clear and transparent process for the dialog between clubs, leagues, federations and the EHF. Naturally it is hoped that the same will apply to the corresponding dialog with the IHF. And the existence of such a process, together with the meeting of minds expressed in the MoU seems to suggest that tangible results should also be forthcoming much more easily.
It should indeed be very interesting to follow the further developments.

Link to the GCH web page regarding the FCH and the upcoming meetings: