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European Handball Federation details proposed changes to club competitions

The European Handball Federation (EHF) has today (Friday) revealed details of its plans to reform its top-tier club competitions.

The proposed changes would come into effect from 2020, with the plans forming the basis of the EHF’s ongoing tender process for its audio-visual and marketing rights through to 2030.

The EHF has proposed that the men’s Champions League move to a league system played under a round-robin format comprising 12 teams, with the potential of later growing to 16 teams. The league would be open to the winners of Europe’s top national leagues, plus four additional teams.

Under the new system, the top eight teams would qualify for the quarter-finals of the tournament and the four winners would then progress to the EHF Final4.

Men’s competitions on the second and third tiers would also undergo an overhaul under the plans currently being discussed by the EHF. The EHF Cup would become known as the European Handball League and be played with 24 teams in the group phase. Teams would compete in four groups of six. The existing Challenge Cup would also be renamed as the EHF Cup and played in a knockout format.

The EHF has also proposed changes to its top-tier women’s competitions. The women’s Champions League would continue to feature 16 teams but would feature two groups of eight. The top eight teams would progress to the quarter-finals and ultimately the Final4.

The second-tier competition would be renamed as the Women’s European Handball League and played in the same format as the current women’s EHF Cup. The current Challenge Cup would then become known as the EHF Cup.

The proposals are viewed as a key element of the EHF’s ongoing tender process, which the body said has attracted interest from 25 media companies and agencies. The tender process launched on September 18 and includes the Champions League, EHF Cup and Challenge Cup club competitions, as well as the EHF Euro and youth national team events.

EHF president Michael Wiederer said: “With these changes, the EHF will be able to offer a comprehensive year-round content offering of sporting highlights, with the potential to captivate and enthral fans in one of Europe’s largest sports communities. This is the first time that the EHF has bundled its rights and entered into a tender process, and the strong interest from the market is a clear indication of just how attractive the ‘European handball’ product is.”

The announcement comes after the EHF earlier this week signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with Forum Club Handball, the organisation representing Europe’s top men’s clubs, to support the ongoing commercial movement of the sport in the continent.

The EHF and Forum Club Handball signed the first MoU in 2010 and subsequently renewed the agreement in 2014. The current agreement was due to expire in June 2018, but the new deal will extend the cooperation through to 2030 following what were termed as “intensive negotiations”.