Bundesliga and EHF clearly on collision course

Surely the EHF and the German clubs need each other!?

Suddenly, media in Germany report about a unanimous conclusion by the Bundesliga clubs that they are no longer willing to put up with the chaotic match calendar and the resulting financial impact that comes from having 8 of 18 teams participating in Champions League or other EHF competitions. As these EHF games mostly take place during the weekends, it means that every week several Bundesliga games have to be played during the middle of the week.

The Bundesliga clubs now insist that, starting with the 2012-13 season, Bundesliga games shall be played during the weekend and that the EHF therefore would have to schedule its games for midweek. This would then be the same system as is followed by the UEFA and the major national leagues in football. Clearly, the Bundesliga clubs are in a special situation, in part because so many of them are involved with EHF events and the disruption therefore is so great. In other countries, there are typically only one or two clubs involved. Moreover, these clubs, relatively speaking, tend to find their involvement in the Champions League as quite important, both from a financial and a sporting standpoint.

Also, looked at from an EHF vantage point, the EHF could probably survive just fine if one or two member federations were to stay away voluntarily with their clubs from EHF competitions. But what would Champions League and the other Cups be without the German teams? So the EHF obviously cannot take the strong statement and the implied threat lightly. Some kind of accommodation will need to be found, either through exceptions or through a complete change in the EHF approach to scheduling.

It may seem a bit strange that the issue is coming up in the strong and unilateral way as now has happened. After all, in very recent time, the EHF has gone out of its way to integrate not just federations but also leagues and clubs in the decision-making and management of both its competitions systems and its general development activities. One might think that this would make it possible to work out solutions to major issues more quietly and systematically within those structures. But perhaps the loud and strong Bundesliga reactions to some extent are a matter of tactics in advance of upcoming discussions…