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21.03.2014, 21:29
EHF Executive meets in Vienna
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Decisions reached on motion for expansion of Men's EHF European Championships and new playing format in the VELUX EHF Champions League from 2015/16 season
 

EHF Executive meets in Vienna

The 119th meeting of the EHF Executive Committee took place in the EHF Office in Vienna on Friday 21 March 2014.

Attended by all 11 members of the committee and senior EHF staff members, the meeting discussed and agreed on a range of issues, with a particular focus on future changes to competition formats in both the Men’s EHF EURO and VELUX EHF Champions League.

Future EHF EURO Events

Plans for the expansion of the Men’s EHF European Championships from the current 16 teams to 24 teams were discussed in further detail by the EHF Executive.

Following the work of the EHF EURO Events Task Force, and an agreement in principle at their meeting in Belgrade, Serbia in December 2013, the Executive now agreed to submit a motion to the EHF Congress in Dublin on 19 and 20 September 2014 for an expansion of the men's competition from 16 teams to 24 as of 2022.

The motion will deal with the expansion and new format of the men's event as well as its financing, the bidding and awarding process and qualification to the event. 

In considering the changes, the Executive acknowledged that an expansion of the event would mean a need to strengthen the quality of youth national teams throughout Europe. More nations will therefore be encouraged to participate in younger age category competitions.

This development goes hand in hand with the restructuring of the younger age category events as of 2015/16, which will also be presented as a motion at the EHF Congress in September.

A change in the format of the competition, with 24 teams and the possibility of more host nations, would also open up the possibilities for nations to host one or more rounds of the EHF EURO for the first time, and bring Europe's flagship national team event to many more spectators across Europe.

Men’s EHF EURO 2020

The EHF Executive confirmed that should Congress agree on the expansion of the Men's EHF EURO, then this could be introduced as soon as 2020.

As part of this process towards the expansion of the event, the EHF has already carried out discussions with the federations of Austria, Norway and Sweden, the bidding nations for the 2020 men’s event, to be awarded by the EHF Congress in September 2014.

The Executive agreed that should the expansion go ahead, and on the basis of the necessary organisational and financial conditions, as well as agreements with the host nations, Austria, Norway and Sweden could potentially jointly host the Men’s EHF EURO in 2020 with 24 nations.

Based on initial agreements this would mean preliminary rounds would take place in Austria, Norway and Sweden, main round matches would be played in Austria and Sweden and the finals in Sweden.

New playing system in VELUX EHF Champions League from 2015/16

As a result of a year-long consultation process with all key stakeholders and external partners, as well as through the work of the EHF and EHF Marketing bodies, and following presentation to the Professional Handball Board, the EHF Executive agreed to the introduction of a new playing system in the VELUX EHF Champions League from the start of the 2015/16 season.

The changes will see the introduction of a new playing system with 28 teams. The new format will be played with a group phase (four groups), two knock-out phases and a final tournament, the VELUX EHF FINAL4. 

Coming to its decision, the EHF Executive took into account the different viewpoints presented during the consultation process, but acknowledged that an evolution of the competition’s playing format was necessary.

With more clubs competing, the new format will open up the competition to more nations and new markets across Europe. It will also guarantee more top matches for Europe’s leading clubs and make the VELUX EHF Champions League more attractive to spectators, sponsors and the media. 

At the same time, all clubs playing in the group phases of the competition have the chance to qualify for the knock-out phases and the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

The introduction of a new playing format in the VELUX EHF Champions League from the season 2015/16 follows the agreed changes in the Women’s EHF Champions League, which will be played with a new system from the start of the 2014/15 season.

New competition format

Group Phase 

The VELUX EHF Champions League will be played in four groups. Groups A and B will be played with eight teams each, it will be played in a round robin, home and away format. 

The top team in each group will qualify directly for the quarter-finals, the bottom two in each group drop out of the competition and the remaining 10 teams qualify for the first knock-out phase.

In groups C and D, six teams will play in each group in a round robin format, playing both home and away. The top two teams in each group will then meet in a ‘semi-final’ play-off, with the two winners going through to the first knock-out phase. The remaining teams drop out of the competition.

Knock-out Phase 1 (Last 12) 

12 teams will play home and away in the first knock-out phase, with the 10 teams qualified from groups A and B and the two teams qualified from groups C and D.

Knock-out Phase 2 (Quarter-finals) 

The six winners of the matches in the first knock-out phase will join with the winners of groups A and B to play home and away for the right to play in the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

VELUX EHF FINAL4 

The culmination of the season, the VELUX EHF FINAL4, will continue in its existing format, with the four top teams from the competition competing for the title.

Additional matters

The Executive also dealt with the introduction of new regulations in club competitions, including a catalogue of entry criteria for the open places to be awarded for the season 2014/15 for EHF Champions League competitions.

Commenting on the meeting, the EHF President, Jean Brihault, said: "Following on from the decision to update the format of the Women's EHF Champions League from next season, I am delighted that we have now agreed how we want to move forward in the in the VELUX EHF Champions League and the Men's EHF European Championships, importants steps which I am sure will take men's handball in the right direct direction for the future."

The next meeting of the EHF Executive is scheduled to take place on 20/21 June 2014 in Umag, Croatia on the occasion of the draw for the Women's EHF EURO 2014 final tournament in Hungary and Croatia.


TEXT: EHF/jjr
 
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