Cologne to remain home of European handball showpiece

Cologne will continue to host what is claimed to be the continent’s biggest and most successful indoor sports event after extending its deal with the European Handball Federation to stage the EHF Final4.

In a new deal signed by the EHF and EHF Marketing, organiser of the Final4, with the City of Cologne, Lanxess arena and federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, it has been confirmed that the finale of the Champions League club competition will return to the German city for a further four events, starting in the 2020-21 season.

Established in 2010, the Final4’s current contract with Cologne was due to run through to the 2020 event. That four-year contract, which was signed in March 2015, included an additional clause that allowed the two-day event to move to a new city for a one-off version in 2018, 2019 or 2020, if desired. Such a clause is not mentioned in the new deal.

The start of the fresh deal between the EHF and Cologne will tie in with the federation’s new media and marketing partnership with the Infront agency and streaming platform DAZN, which is set to transform the sport.

Michael Wiederer, EHF president, said: “This sports city offers the perfect conditions for the organisation of the Final4: a central location in the North Rhine-Westphalia region, where handball is hugely popular, and a venue – the Lanxess Arena – which ranks as one of, it not the, best handball arenas in Europe.

“The renewal of the contract with the City of Cologne, Lanxess Arena and also the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia was a natural choice and we look forward to celebrating not only 10 years of the EHF Final4 in 2019 but also the 15-year anniversary in 2024.”

David Szlezak, managing director of EHF Marketing, added: “The Final4 has already established itself as the leading sports event on the European indoor sports market since its launch back in 2010.

“This is thanks, in no small part, to the long-term partnerships we have developed with trusted partners including the City of Cologne, Lanxess Arena, North Rhine-Westphalia and our local partner, Stadionwelt.

“This new contract from the season 2020-21, parallel to the start of our new media and marketing contract, offers us the opportunity take the Final4 in a completely new level and further improve on what we have already achieved with this flagship handball event.”