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CHL signs off on five-year Infront deal as exchange rate hits profits

The Champions Hockey League, the European club ice hockey competition, has signed off on its new long-term contract with the Infront agency.

The two parties agreed a five-season extension to their agreement last December and the deal has now been rubber-stamped. As part of the deal, which runs from 2023-24 to 2027-28, Infront will continue to serve as the CHL’s exclusive media and marketing partner.
The contract includes media and sponsorship rights, overall venue management, digital services and management of broadcast production.

Infront has represented the CHL rights since the league launched in 2014-15 with 44 teams (before expanding to 48 clubs for its 2015-16 campaign).

Going into the 2019-20 CHL season, Infront had secured 26 broadcast deals covering 63 territories. The CHL’s international broadcast footprint is often extended towards the end of the season as a handful of additional broadcasters come on board for the play-offs.

The CHL also presented its annual financial statement to shareholders during yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) general assembly meeting, which was held online and in the Swiss city of Zug. Although specific terms of the league’s financial results were not revealed, chief executive Martin Baumann said that a “small profit” was made.

He said: “On the financial side, I’m happy to report a pleasing company result for 2019-20 even though the CHF/EUR situation totally worked against us and our profits were reduced by massive exchange losses.

“Thanks to our very efficient cost management, we still made a small net profit which is not par for the course during challenging times.”

The CHL is a Swiss-based company and must therefore provide its financial reports in Swiss francs (CHF).

The general assembly also saw CHL shareholders vote in favour of reducing the number of participating teams from 32 to 24, starting with the 2023-24 season, the same year the new Infront contract begins.

Peter Zahner, the CHL president, said: “The CHL board had negotiated the new contract with Infront under such a precondition, as a reduction in teams will create a higher-quality on-ice product and more exclusivity. This will also lead to greater financial compensation for the teams involved.”

He added: “Our shareholders showed that they have the big picture in mind and are keen to take the next step with our product, as a strong CHL benefits everyone.”

The CHL will continue to operate as a 32-team competition for three more seasons. The contractual pre-conditions stipulate that from the 2023-24 season onwards, the 24 teams must represent a minimum of 12 national leagues, and one national league cannot be represented by more than four teams.

A new share concept that will be integrated into the league’s shareholders’ agreement was also officially approved during the meeting. Although the split of share capital and the percentage of shares divided among all parties will remain as it was previously (clubs 63 per cent, national leagues 12 per cent and the International Ice Hockey Federation 12 per cent), the CHL said the new regulations will provide “simplification and allow for greater flexibility”.

The shareholders’ agreement was also extended until 2028.

The CHL currently features teams from Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Denmark, Belarus, Great Britain, France, Norway and Poland.