E.H.C. Alliance holds 9th Annual General Meeting in Prague

E.H.C. Alliance holds 9th Annual General Meeting in Prague

The Alliance of European Hockey Clubs held its ninth Annual General Meeting at the Stages Hotel in Prague – the same venue as Tuesday night’s Fenix Outdoor European Hockey Awards.

E.H.C. Alliance President and SC Bern CEO Marc Lüthi began by speaking about relations between the E.H.C. Alliance and the International Ice Hockey Federation and the National Hockey League. Specifically, about European clubs releasing their players to international events staged by these two giant bodies.

Lüthi spoke about the Alliance’s ability to get €10,000 per player for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing and the importance of getting that again. “This is for sure the most important thing,” he said.

Lüthi also mentioned the NHL’s attempt to organize a World Cup of Hockey in Europe, which ultimately never came to fruition. However, the NHL’s wish was to have players released for up to two weeks in February to be available for the tournament, which European clubs felt was too much.

“It’s enough when we have to give up our players three times a year for one week,” said Lüthi, referring to the regularly scheduled international breaks that are already on the European hockey calendar. “At the end of the day, we want to have good relations and we don’t want to kill that with the national team breaks. We have more important things we need to do.”

In the business of electing a new Board for the 2024-25 season, Sparta Prague general manager Petr Vosmík was voted to a full-time position. Vosmík took over the role on an interim basis in February after the resignation of Barbora Snopková Haberová. Furthermore, Miloš Radosa from Dukla Trenčín announced his resignation from the Board because he is leaving an operational position with the club, although he is remaining as part-owner. Miloslav Klíma, managing director of HC Košice, was elected in his place.

At the ensuing statutory Board meeting, Marc Lüthi was elected President with Tommi Virkkunen and Stefan Larsson as Vice Presidents.

At last year’s AGM, Szymon Szemberg announced that the 2023-24 season would be his last as Managing Director of the E.H.C. Alliance. As such, this was his final AGM, but he will remain in the position through to the 2024 Hockey Business Forum in Munich in October.

On 1 November, Caroline Jonsson, who has been the E.H.C.’s Project Managerin charge ofMarketing and Events since 2021, will take over as the new Managing Director.

“I am very excited for this and I would like to thank the E.H.C. Board and its recruitment group for entrusting me with this opportunity,” Jonsson was quoted back in April. “The Alliance has come a long way since it started nine years ago and I am committed to continue with the mission to look after the interests of Europe’s professional hockey clubs, who are the engine of European hockey.”

Speaking about growing up in a hockey environment, Jonsson told members of the AGM, “I thought every kid was watching hockey three or four days a week. To me it was normal.”

A report on Europe-wide attendance and several records being set – most notably Kölner Haie’s average of nearly 17,000 per game – segued into an overall financial report. Szemberg presented a review of the 2023-24 season from a financial perspective. A deficit was originally projected for the E.H.C. Alliance but, ultimately, the season produced a surplus of €758,834, resulting in €857,503.23 of net assets.

As it will become her duty when the season operates, Jonsson presented the projected budget for the upcoming hockey season. As she plans to travel more in the execution of her duties and plans to hire a replacement for her position before Szemberg leaves at the end of the calendar year, it is forecast that expenses will exceed revenues by about €31,500 this season. Members approved this budget, with the shortfall to be covered by the Alliance’s existing assets.

In the Managing Director’s report, Szemberg reviewed last year’s Hockey Business Forum in Tampere, which he described as “the best we have ever done.” Looking ahead to this autumn, he said, “After Munich, I will again say, ‘This is the best we have done’ because we always try to do better.”

This year’s Hockey Business Forum, which will take place in late October, will feature a seminar on the development of professional women’s hockey in Europe. The centrepiece of the Forum will be the new SAP Garden, which is currently under construction, and will become the home of the DEL’s Red Bull Munich and basketball club Bayern Munich when it opens in late September.

“Imagine Central Park in New York. Now imagine Central Park with an 11,000-seat arena – that’s what we are trying to present to you,” said Red Bull executive Rupert Zamorsky. Acknowledging there’s still a lot of work to do before the facility opens, he said, “Yes, there is pressure to get it done but we like the pressure. It will be a pleasure to host you in October.”

Derek O'Brien
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