Bundesliga schedule puts German clubs under pressure
Following the start of the new season, a number of questions have been raised in the international media regarding the scheduling of matches for German teams in the VELUX EHF Champions League.
With three clubs participating - Rhein-Neckar Löwen, Flensburg-Handewitt and THW Kiel - 34 rounds of competition in the Bundesliga, the limited availability of arenas, contractual requirements with TV partners and the need to coordinate with existing national league and cup programmes across Europe, the scheduling of matches for German teams in the VELUX EHF Champions League will always be a challenge.
The EHF has worked closely with participating clubs and TV partners to find the best solutions on the match days allocated for the playing of the VELUX EHF Champions League (Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) – match days agreed and coordinated with the top leagues in Europe, including Germany’s Handball Bundesliga.
However, the decision by the management of the Handball Bundesliga to play its league matches on Thursdays and Sundays from the start of the new season – a decision made without any consultation with the EHF – has resulted in a much more difficult situation for German teams from both a scheduling and sporting perspective.
The Bundesliga schedule effectively eliminates Wednesday as a possible match day and, with Saturday a preferred match day in many nations due to fan interest and TV contracts, it is likely that German teams will be required to play Thursdays in the Bundesliga and Saturdays in the VELUX EHF Champions League.
Already this season, as a combined result of the Bundesliga schedule, limited availability of arenas and the need to respect the requirements of each home team, Rhein-Neckar Löwen will have to play on Saturday (11 November 2017) in the Bundesliga and, having found no other possible date for the match, on Sunday (12 November 2017) in the VELUX EHF Champions League in Barcelona.
The EHF will continue to coordinate with German teams to find the best possible solutions but the decision to play Thursdays/Sundays in the Bundesliga means limited options and more pressure on German teams playing at the top level in Europe and the Bundesliga at the same time. Unfortunately this will remain inevitable throughout the season.
28 top clubs from 18 different nations/leagues are competing in the VELUX EHF Champions League this year. The competition is played with 14 rounds in the group phase, last 16 (unless a team is qualified directly) and quarter-finals, altogether a maximum of 18 matches. The four semi-finalists will meet at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne on 26/27 May 2018.
Head of EHF Media & Communications
European Handball Federation
Tel. +43 180151 167
Mobile: +43 664 887 36594