Date: 2016.05.30 | Category: Forum Club Handball | Response: 0








The 15th General Assembly of Forum Club Handball took place on the fringes of this years VELUX FINAL4 in Cologne. 35 clubs from 21 countries were present, among them the 4 VELUX FINAL4 participants from Kielce, Veszprem, Paris and Kiel, but also Athens, Celje, Dublin, Flensburg, Granollers, Hasselt, Kristianstad, London, Minsk, Skopje, Zaparozhe and Zagreb to mention some of them.

As the current FCH-President, Joan Marin, took over the position of the Managing Director in Spanish ASOBAL, he did not stand for re-election.

The newly elected FCH-Board reads as follows:

President: Xavier O’Callaghan (FC Barcelona/ESP)

Vice-President + Treasurer: Dierk Schmäschke (Flensburg/GER)

Vice-President: Bert Servaas (Kielce/POL)

Board member: Peter Leutwyler (Schaffhausen/SUI)

Board member: Karl Lofmark (Lund/SWE)

Deputy Board members:

Thorsten Storm (Kiel/GER)

Pep Blanchart (Granollers/ESP)

Robert Molines (Montpellier/FRA)

Gregor Planteu (Celje/SLO)

Magnus Clarke (Dublin/IRL)

FCH representatives:

EHF Competition Commission: Radek Wasiak (Kielce/POL)

EHF Professional Handball Board:

Xavier O’Callaghan (FCH President)

Gerd Butzeck (FCH Managing Director)

EHF Club Licensing Working Group

Joan Marin (FCH Honorary member)

EHFM Men’s Club Board:

Thorsten Storm (FCH Dep Board member)

Lasse Boesen (Kolding-Copenhagen/DEN)

EHFM Advisory Board

Gerd Butzeck (FCH Managing Director)

EHFM Financial Inspection

Peter Leutwyler (FCH Board member)

FCH Comptroller

Gerd Hofele (Göppingen/GER)

The meeting minutes will be delivered to the FCH Member clubs in June 2016. GB

Date: 2016.05.16 | Category: Forum Club Handball | Response: 0

The upcoming 15th General Assembly will see elections for the FCH Board and offices. Candidates for the FCH Board have to be nominated 2 weeks prior to the meeting at the latest.

Candidates were nominated from the FCH member clubs as follows:

1. Election of the FCH Board member Nation ranked 1 GER

Candidate: Dierk Schmäschke/Flensburg

2. Election of the FCH Deputy Board member Nation ranked 1

Candidate: Thorsten Storm/Kiel

3. Election of the FCH Board member Nation ranked 2 ESP

Candidate: Xavi O’Callaghan/FC Barcelona

4. Election of the FCH Deputy Board member Nation ranked 2

Candidate: Pep Blanchard/Granollers

5. Election of the FCH Board member Nation ranked 3-6


Candidate: DEN Jens Boesen/Kolding-Copenhagen

Candidate: POL Bertus Servaas/Kielce

6. Election of the FCH Deputy Board member Nation ranked 3-6

Candidate: FRA Robert Molines/Montpelier

7. Election of the FCH Board member Nation ranked 7-12


Candidate: SLO Gregor Planteu/Celje

Candidate: SWE Karl Lofmark/Lund

Candidate: SWE Nikolas Larsson/Kristianstad

8. Election of the FCH Dep Board member Nation ranked 7-12

9. Election of the FCH Board member Nation ranked 13-49


Candidate: Peter Leutwyler (SUI)

Candidate: Magnus Clarke (IRL)

10. Election of the FCH Dep Board member Nation ranked 13-49

Candidate: Radu Miclaus (ENG)

Candidate: Nemanja Protic (SRB)

A candidate, being NOT elected as Board member, will become candidate Deputy Board member.

Gerd Butzeck/Election Supervisor

Date: 2016.05.09 | Category: Forum Club Handball, WOMEN Handball | Response: 0

During the 5th General Assembly of Women Forum Club Handball the ordinary elections took place. As the outgoing President Ernö Kelecsenyi left his club Györi Audi ETO KC two months ago, he did not stand for re-election. The General Assembly expressed its thanks to Ernö Kelecsenyi who set up the structure of the Organisation.

The following persons were elected:

Board Member Nation ranked 1 (DEN): Thomas Hylle/Team Esbjerg/unanimous

Deputy Board Member Nation ranked 1 (DEN): Lars Gantzel/FC Midtjylland/unanimous

Board Member Nation ranked 2 (HUN): Zsolt Akos Jeney/Ferencvaros Budapest/unanimous

Deputy Board Member Nation ranked 2 (HUN): Lazlo Radványi/unanimous

2 Board Members Nations ranked 3-8 (RUS, NOR, GER, FRA, ROU, MNE):

Kay-Sven Hähner/HC Leipzig – GER

Per Christian Andersen/Larvik HK – NOR

2 Deputy Board members Nations ranked 3-8 (RUS, NOR, GER, FRA, ROU, MNE):

Stanislav Kulinchenko/HC Kuban – RUS

Bojana Popovic/ZRK Buducnost – MNE

Election Board Member Nations ranked 9-50 (AUT, MKD, SWE, SLO, CRO, ESP, …):

Gordana Naceva/Vardar Skopje – MKD

Election Deputy Board Member Nations ranked 9-50 (AUT, MKD, SWE, SLO, CRO, …):

Deja Ivanovic/RK Krim Mercator – SLO


The newly elected Board proposed candidates for the various WFCH offices as follows:

WFCH President: Zsolt Akos Jeney – Ferencvaros Budapest/HUN

2 WFCH Vice-Presidents: Kay-Sven Hähner/GER and Gordana Naceva/MKD

WFCH-Treasurer and EHFM finances inspection: Kay-Sven Hähner/GER

WFCH Comptroller: Jutta Ehrmann/GER

WHB-representative: Deja Invanovic/SLO


Gordana Naceva/MKD, Kay-Sven Hähner/GER, Zsolt Akos Jeney/HUN, Thomas Hylle/DEN, Per Christian Andersen/NOR

All nominations were approved unanimously. GB

Date: 2016.03.24 | Category: WOMEN Handball | Response: 0

Today the President of one of the leading Women handball Clubs in Europe, Ernö Kelecsenyi, resigned from his leading position in Györi Audi ETO KC. Under the direction of Ernö Kelecsenyi the club had its most successful period: the club won the EHF Championsleague twice and the Hungarian Championship thrice. The resignation does not affect his position as President of Women Forum Club Handball.

Date: 2016.03.02 | Category: Other Sports | Response: 0

More than 50 Clubs from 15 countries founded the ‘Association of European Hockey Clubs’ in Düsseldorf/Germany. The project was started by Hakan Loob, Manager of Swedisch top Club Färjestad BK and Szymon Szemberg. A temporary Board of Club representatives from 9 countries will work out the statutes of the new organisation which will start working on 1st July 2016. FCH Managing Director G. Butzeck was invited as guest speaker.

Date: 2016.02.16 | Category: EHF, European Handball Manager | Response: 0

Without a coaching licence one cannot coach a team. Without the proper qualification one cannot become a referee – but what about handball club managers?

The European Handball Federation together with the German Sports University Cologne decided to focus on the adequate education, matching the demands of national and international handball, for the people responsible for the clubs’ and federations’ business side of things.

Europe’s first professional qualification in handball management launched in July 2015 in German. The second edition will begin in September 2016 and this time will be offered in English.

Sharing of best practice examples

Each course will consist of a maximum of 20 participants, the deadline for the 2016 registration is 30 April. The enrolment fee is 5,000 euro.

Participants will have to be present at the Sports University for 16 days. The course ends with and oral and a written exam.

The course consists of five modules: Basics in economics and law, handball management, marketing and sponsoring, finances and licensing as well as media and communications.

The relevance of the further education programme is underlined by the inclusion of Michael Wiederer, EHF Secretary General, as a speaker.

“It is the right way to contribute to this study by investing into the successful future of handball and its management. Our trailblazers as European Handball Managers are a great group. Already the first presence phase showed the different perspectives, on which we can build on in the future,” Wiederer says.

Besides the education aspect, the organisers stress that the participants share best practice examples from their daily business.

Further experienced course lecturers including Sylvia Schenk (Head of the Working Group on Sport at Transparency Deutschland) and Prof. Dr. Martin Gutzeit (Professor of Civil Rights, Employment and Social Law at the Justus Liebig University Giessen) guarantee a high-quality programme with practical relevance.

Legal adviser and former national team goalkeeper, Andreas Thiel, will also be offering his expertise combining legal matters with aspects from professional handball.

The course targets former professional players and coaches and also managers, who have been working in professional handball for at least two years. University graduates with an expressed interest in the course are also eligible to apply.

For more information on admission, exams, attendance phases and for a registration form visit the course’s website and see the Flyer.

Date: 2016.02.15 | Category: Euroleague Handball | Response: 0

Christian Ciemalla from German published an interesting interview with Wolfgang Gütschow (53), CEO of the Project PREMIER HANDBALL LEAGUE AG

The orginal version you find hear:

Montag · 08.02.2016 · 17:15 Uhr · Christian Ciemalla -

Wolfgang Gütschow about Premier Handball League (PHL).

News about a Handball-Superleague were spread during the EURO in Poland. The ‚Premier Handball League‘ (PHL) shall replace the EHF-Championsleague as premium product of European Club Handball as of season 2018/19. The private project shall be set up similar to the North Amrican NBA and unify the best of the European teams from metropolitan areas with teams from other continents in a world league.

One of the initiatiors is the german agent and consultant Wolfgang Gütschow who acts as CEO and President of the board for PHL AG (stock company). The 53-year-old explains the background, targets and vision of the project: The PHL shall bring revolution to European Club Handball, using the sample of NBA.

Although you intend to start in 2018/19 only, the article in German ‚Handelsblatt‘ caused a lot of exitement …

Wolfgang Gütschow:
The exitement was also a surprise for us. Although we did not announce a tender so far, a nervous discussion about the distribution of the places in the league started immediately. The response on the project is overwhelming. Just now the Danish entrepreneur Jesper Nielson informed me that he intends to set up a team AG Amazing Copenhagen for the PHL only. And even in Hamburg things are moving during the last days.

The plans shall be quite concrete …. a league with only 12 top teams, preferably from metropolitan areas, round-robin-system and play-offs at the end.
Wolfgang Gütschow:
As we have only very few real European top clubs, 12 clubs is a realistic number. If we have more teams, fullfilling the criteria, we will not block an expansion. At first we have to set up a calendar which fits into the international calendar. ECHs, WCHs and Olympic Games shall not be damaged. The clubs shall continue to play in their national leagues.

How the PHL shall differ from the EHF Champions League?

Wolfgang Gütschow:
The PHL intends to bring top handball from the villages to the big arenas in the metropolitan areas. Every match shall become an event, close to the spirit of the Final4 in Cologne. We intend to widen the calendar, the season shall last from February until December. Including a break and player transfers during the summer. From the sportive and from the marketing point of view it is not smart, to deliver all national and international titels in May.

Not many clubs will be able to host these mega-events …
Wolfgang Gütschow:
With all respect: with clubs, carrying the names of small villages, you can not produce a premium product, not even thinking about marketing such a product. The Championsleague is without any doubt well organized, sympathic and with a family character, but most of the clubs have to pay for the particpation. Flensburg played in Istambul in front of 300 spectators and some clubs don’t even charge the spectators. Compared to other premium products the EHF CL is an sport economical desaster.

It is heard that the PHL shall have different rules.

Wolfgang Gütschow:
We will not invent handball from scratch. As the PHL will not be member of any international federation, we have a lot of possibilities to shape the product. The current rules are overloaded, even the players and the referees don’t understand them to the end. Permanently we face protests and discussions about rules and interpretation of rules, re-play of matches and referees who allegedly manipulate international matches. This is an accumulation of worst-case-scenarios for every sport. First of all we have to safeguard that the referees have less possibilities to take influence on the match. This will make rules more transparent for the spectators and easier accessable for new customers.

How shall this look like technically?
Wolfgang Gütschow:
One example might be the shot-clock. It can not be the case that referees are measuring the duration and passivity of an action by feeling the temparature in the pocket of their trousers. We have to minimize the sources for errors. The rules for suspensions should be reviewed. In any case analogue proceedings like the green card shall disappear. At the time keeper table we need two buzzers and not the whistle of an overcharged time keeper. The discussions about phantom goals, last second goals and errors during the player exchanges must be completely excluded via high tec, as it is done in other sports. And a thrilling handball match has to end with a winner. The Golden Goal will come.

As a break-away-league you will not be able to use referees from EHF and IHF.

Wolfgang Gütschow:
Wait and see. The PHL will use professional referees and abstain from a senseless age-limit, which excludes best-agers from being referee. To find 40 referees will be one of the smaller tasks.

Back to Germany. How many teams from German Bundesliga shall participate?

Wolfgang Gütschow:
We do not intend, to start a discussion on the number of German teams now. The PHL will be a cosmopolitan company. Whether a participant is coming from Denmark, Germany, France or from the Emirates does not play any role. Foxes, Bears, Eagles and Zebras are in the center of interest.

That means, THW Kiel and Foxes Berlin are seeded already ….

Wolfgang Gütschow:
We can not call somebody seeded, as long as the findings in the respective club are not finalized yet. THW Kiel has to decide whether they want to position their valuable brand in the conservative surrounding of EHF or in the modern milieu of an NBA like Handball World league. For a traditional club like Kiel this is a decision of major importance, which needs maximum carefulness.

Things are easier for a metropolitan club like Foxes Berlin?

Wolfgang Gütschow:
Basically yes, as in this case it is the essential question whether you are able to finance a team in a metropolitan area with matches against villages. The answer is ‚no‘, as proved in Hamburg. In a metropolitan area such a system opens doors to new investors, as you have only top matches against other metropols. The core of the idea is the possibility to market the matches in your own arena successfully.

By this you express that it would have been possible to rescue Hamburg, if PHL would been existing already.

Wolfgang Gütschow:
Without any doubt. Imagine, the ‚Hamburg Captains‘ would have participated in a world league. The cosmopoliton metropol Hamburg, the door to the world, an open and tolerant city – is longing for an international sport project with seriousness and quality. In Hamburg there is one law: If you do not offer extra class, you will fail. With the combination of Hamburg seriousness and world appeal, handball would have functioned. Captains and business people don’t want to go in the german diaspora ‚Sauerland‘, but to Hongkong and Shanghai. I am sure, in PHL Andreas Rudolph would never have given up, as he would have had serious partners.

What do you do, if Bayern München sends in an application?

Wolfgang Gütschow:
We would be happy! The sportive, logistical and economical conditions are decisive. Our target are 24 teams. A city like Vienna is designed to host such a team, as of the times when Dagur Sigurdsson woke up Austrian handball. The Netherlands are Vice-World Champions with their women team. Why not to set up a men’s team in Amsterdam? Or in Prague, St. Petersburg or Reykjavik? The Schaffhausen cadets could loose their proviciality and participate as Swiss cadets in the PHL. Our slogan: Everything is possible, nothing is mandatory.

How the expansion would look like outside of Europe?

Wolfgang Gütschow:
We have requests from the near east, not only from Qatar. Firstly we have to do our European homework. But it is possible that an arabian team is part of the start-up.

The PHL shall replace the not beloved EHF-Championsleague as Premium product. In Vienna one will not be amused for sure …

Wolfgang Gütschow:
Hard to say. I informed EHF Secretary General M. Wiederer in writing and very open about the project. I think this to be a matter of fairness, if you know each other for almost 25 years. Different opinions not necessarily need to lead to enmity. Admittedly he refused to meet for an informative meeting which I regret, but I of course understand him due to his sport political ambitions.

You are supposed to have hired Peter Vargo, the most important employee in EHF …

Wolfgang Gütschow:
Peter Vargo has been the brain and the heart of the Cologne Final4. A project like the PHL you can develop only with top managers. Our structure forsees the unification of the most capable personalities in handball.

Maybe be in the end you will come to an agreement with EHF? Bob Hanning proposed to negotiate.

Wolfgang Gütschow:
This is hardly possible, as the EHF is not responsible for us. The PHL is designed as a world league and the part of the IHF zone of influence.

That means talks with IHF?

Wolfgang Gütschow:
Well, maybe. As the IHF does not operate any serious international club competition, the PHL might fill this vacuum. Politically this is a thrilling situation, as a world league, tolerated by IHF, would weaken the monopoly of EHF to organize handball matches in Europe. But this is not our issue. We are indepent and not political.

Are you afraid of a conflict with the IHF?
Wolfgang Gütschow:
We will act honestly and without any conspiracy. Our philosophy is peaceful co-existance. At the end we are all aiming at the same target – to make handball a big sport. Dr. Hassan Moustafa intends to achieve this politically, we economically. If you have the same targets, you should not exclude cooperation from the very beginning.

Sanctions might threaten the project, like disqualification of players for a WCH, ECH, Olympic Games, if they participate in the PHL.
Wolfgang Gütschow:
If the federations will try to defend their old-fashioned monopoly, we will try to handle this with a nonchalant passivity. Disqualification of players would be next trap to make handball disappear in the meaninglessness. A sport which excludes its best athlets from the top events, will no longer be an olympic sport soon. Already today handball is one of the endangered sports. To remain an olympic sport, we need to develop handball on all continents. Especially this is the target of the PHL.

By the way – who are the investors of the PHL?
Wolfgang Gütschow:
There are too much speculations around this point. The exploitation of TV- and Marketing rights is save, guaranteed and there is even the possibility of a buy-out. Finances are not the problem. But to make the project become reality, you need visions, know-how and you need to be brave!

Are the clubs involved in the plannings?

Wolfgang Gütschow:
Of course. The project Premier Handball League (PHL) without partnership with the clubs just an empty shell. We lead numerous negotiations with club representatives and already received confirmations. Now we implement the needs of clubs into the business model. We will not make the mistake to take decisions without consulting the clubs. At the end the clubs are the core of the game.

Concerning the core of the game. Does not an American franchise model harm the grassroots of the sport? The EU-commission and EU competition law might be big obstacles, as structures, similar to the NBA, are not unconditioned applicable.

Wolfgang Gütschow:
One can make American ideas become European, without loosing the American spirit. PHL will not only be about money, but also about international youth projects and primarily about global promotion of a traditionally European sport.

When speaking about PHL, people are speaking about the NBA of Handball. Isn’t that a bit exaggerated?

Wolfgang Gütschow:
No. NBA stands for something very simple. Game, fun and show. Matches of a Superleague have to be events. With all respect to the small clubs, but how do you want to become a match in Hamburg against Eisenach or Baia Mare an event? Handball is popular almost everywhere all over Europe, but in many countries with a very small number of top clubs. The Moscow Bears have no serious opponents in the national league, Barcelona and Paris are without competitors as well. Veszprem and Kielce are dominating Hugary and Poland. We have to bring these teams together with the German top teams, include Scandinavia and the Balcanic region. We combine this with big arenas, art and culture, local specifities, ambience on high level, food and beverage. Then we will  have a multicultural Handball NBA made in Europe, and the whole world will pay attention.

What about the smaller clubs which are not able to become part of the show?
Wolfgang Gütschow:
They will not loose anything. There will be always an Euro-League, a National league and the local derby. The teams, competing in the PHL, will continue to play in their National league. The football Bundesliga has no decrease nowhere, although the UEFA Championsleague is improving in a brilliant way. The National leagues will benefit from PHL. And therefore also the grassroots sports.

In which way the clubs will have a say?

Wolfgang Gütschow:
We plan to set up a GmbH&Co KG, where the clubs will act as shareholders and decide, for example, about the marketing of the valuable licenses. The franchise system will give a lot space for creativity to the clubs. A modern league and responsible athletes can not be handled like a laird is governing his farm, the current approach of the federations.

Critics say that the PHL will destroy Handball.
Wolfgang Gütschow:
Today in many places Handball is played as during the times of Vlado Stenzel. 1978 dart was played in pubs only and nobody knew, how to write the word Biathlon. Today these sports have huge audiences on TV. Handball has become, due to his rules, as difficult as an opera of Richard Wagner. What we need for a handball sunrise is a light mix of Rolling Stones, Mozart and Techno. If we succeed to make a facelifting of handball, we will be to position the sport in the US in a few years.




Date: 2016.01.22 | Category: European Handball Manager | Response: 0

Prof. Dr. Carmen Manchado López was welcomed as a new member into the academic advisory board of the certificate course European Handball Manager right on time for the start of the 2016 intake.

Carmen Manchado López was very successful as a coach of the national women’s handball teams of Spain and Germany. Nowadays she is Professor of General and Specific Didactics in Sport at the University of Alicante (Spain). Her academic focus is on endurance training analyses and handball-specific fitness training, with particular emphasis on women’s handball. In addition she is a member of the Competition Commission of the European Handball Federation (EHF) in the field of women’s handball.

Carmen Manchado López is now the fifth member of the academic advisory board who will advise and assist the academic and administrative management of the one-year certificate course European Handball Manager. The five members are representatives of the German Sport University of Cologne, the EHF and the Forum Club Handball. With the help of the academic advisory board, the European Handball Manager course can continue to be developed. “That’s how we can guarantee the high quality of our course in handball management“ says Dr. Stefan Walzel, the academic manager of the certificate course.

The fact that Carmen Manchado López has joined the staff of the course is not only of importance for women’s handball but it will strengthen the international focus of the European Handball Manager. The first intake of the certificate course Held in English is in July 2016. Applications are being accepted from now on. The deadline for applications is 30th April 2016.


Contact Person:   Dr. Stefan Walzel


E-Mail-Contact:   Web:


Pünktlich zum Anmeldestart für den Jahrgang 2016 wurde mit Prof. Dr. Carmen Manchado López eine weitere Persönlichkeit des Handballsports als neues Mitglied im Wissenschaftlichen Beirat des Zertifikatsstudiums European Handball Manager begrüsst.

Als ehemalige Trainerin der spanischen und deutschen Frauenhandball-Nationalmannschaft konnte Carmen Manchado López einige internationale Erfolge erzielen. Heute ist sie Professorin für allgemeine und spezifische Didaktik im Sport an der Universität Alicante (Spanien). Ihre wissenschaftlichen Schwerpunkte liegen neben Ausdauertrainingsanalysen und handballspezifischen Konditionstrainings vor allem im Bereich des Frauenhandballs. Darüber hinaus ist sie Mitglied der Spielbetriebs-Kommission der European Handball Federation (EHF) im Bereich des Frauenhandballs.

Carmen Manchado López wird nun als fünftes Mitglied des Wissenschaftlichen Beirats die wissenschaftliche und administrative Leitung des einjährigen Zertifikatsstudiums European Handball Manager beraten und unter-stützen. Die fünf Mitglieder sind Vertreter der Deutschen Sporthochschule Köln, der EHF und des Forum Club Handball. Mithilfe des Wissenschaftlichen Beirats kann eine stetige Weiterentwicklung des European Handball Managers, der an der Deutschen Sporthochschule Köln in Kooperation mit der Europäischen Handball Förderation stattfindet, vorangetrieben werden. „So können wir eine qualitativ hochwertige Ausbildung im Handballmanagement gewährleisten“, sagt Dr. Stefan Walzel, der wissenschaftliche Leiter des Zertifikatsstudiums.

Mit der Aufnahme von Carmen Manchado López soll neben dem Bereich des Frauenhandballs zudem die internationale Ausrichtung des European Handball Managers gestärkt und auch nach außen hin sichtbar gemacht werden. Der erste Jahrgang des Zertifikatsstudiums in englischer Sprache startet im Juli 2016. Ab sofort, jedoch bis spätestens 30. April 2016, können sich Interessierte bewerben.

Ansprechpartner: Studiengangsleiter  Dr. Stefan Walzel

E-Mail-Kontakt:   Internetseite:

Date: 2016.01.21 | Category: Euroleague Handball | Response: 0

Forum Club Handball (FCH) follows the development of the Premier Handball League (PHL) with great interest. It is a private initiative of the Swiss based company Premier Handball League AG under the leadership of CEO Wolfgang Gütschow/Germany.  As revealed in the Handelsblatt article, dated 18.1.2016, Peter Vargo, who has built up EHF Marketing GmbH during the last 10 years, will join the project in the future. The PHL wants to start in season 2018/19.

According to our inquiries, the majority of the FCH member clubs has no detailed information about the project and no European Top Clubs have been contracted so far.

FCH will provide to its member clubs all information available during the upcoming General Assembly in Poland on 30th January 2016.

Date: 2016.01.20 | Category: EHF, EU Commission, Euroleague Handball | Response: 0

Wir bereits Anfang der Woche vermeldet, hat das deutsche HANDELSBLATT  in einem Artikel von Erik Eggers über die Pläne der ‘Premier Handball League’ berichtet. Wegen der Bedeutung des Artikels für den Handballsport zitieren wir den Artikel im folgenden in voller Länge (und bedanken uns gleichzeitig für die Genehmigung des Autors):

HANDELSBLATT, 18.1.16: Handball Weltliga wird konkreter

‘Der ganz große Wurf’ von Erik Eggers

Die Idee von einer Superliga im Handball, an der nur europäische Topteams teilnehmen, soll bis 2019 Wirklichkeit werden. Die Ambitionen sind groß, sogar den US-Markt will die „Premier Handball League“ erobern.

Düsseldorf. Die Aktiengesellschaft, die am 25. November 2015 unter der Handelsregister-Nummer CH-020 .3402.676-5 in Zürich eingetragen worden ist, ist bislang nur wenigen Insidern bekannt. Doch die neue Firma namens „Premier Handball League AG“ (PHL) könnte die Gewichte im Handballsport verschieben. Im Kern dreht es sich bei dem Projekt um den Aufau einer privat organisierten internationalen Profiliga, bei der die PHL den Spielbetrieb organisiert und die Rechteverwertung für die Klubs übernimmt.

Präsident des Verwaltungsrates ist Wolfgang Gütschow. Der 53-jährige ist seit Jahrzehnten im Handballbusiness unterwegs, zunächst seit 1993 als Manager der russischen Nationalmannschaft, danach als Spielermanager. Zu seinen Klienten gehören Bundestrainer Dagur Sigurdsson und Torhüter Carsten Lichtlein die beide derzeit mit der deutschen Nationalmannschaft die Europameisterschaft in Polen bestreiten.

Seit einem Jahr arbeitet Gütschow, einer der führenden Köpfe der Szene, hinter den Kulissen an der Idee einer neuen Liga nach dem Muster der nordamerikanischen Profi-Basketballliga NBA. Die PHL soll ab dem Jahr 2019 die Champions League ersetzen, die seit 1993 von der Europäischen Handball Föderation (EHF) organisiert wird. „Handball hat kein vermarktbares Premiumprodukt“, erklärt Gütschow. Die Sportart benötige dringend einen Modernisierungs­schub.

Wie groß die Ambitionen der PHL sind und wie konkret die Pläne, unterstreicht diese Personalie: Peter Vargo, 45, langjähriger EHF-Marketingchef, hat nach Informationen des Handelsblatts seinen Vertrag bei der EHF gekündigt und steigt demnächst bei der PHL ein.

Ein weiteres herausragendes Motiv der Initiatoren ist ihre Einschätzung, dass es bei wichtigen Spielen auf höchstem Niveau nicht immer mit rechten Dingen zugeht. „Es bedarf einer kompletten Neustrukturierung des Schiedsrichterwesens. Die internationalen Verbände können schon lange keine neutrale Wettkampfleitung mehr gewährleisten. Aber genau das ist die Basis eines jeden sportlichen Vergleichs“, sagt Gütschow.

Der administrative Rahmen der PHL ist bereits geschaffen. Die AG in Zürich fungiert als Holding, sie ist Inhaberin der Vermarktungsrechte und soll die Finanzierung der Liga verantworten. Operieren soll die neue Liga von Berlin aus: Die PHL License GmbH & Co. KG befindet sich in der Gründungsphase.

Die Protagonisten planen ein Franchise-System mit zwölf Lizenznehmern zunächst aus zwölf europäischen Metropolen. Also eine reine Lizenzliga, die ohne Auf- und Abstieg organisiert ist. „Dass Großstädte wie Berlin, Paris, Barcelona oder Moskau mitmachen, ist die Bedingung unserer Rechtepartner und Investoren, die das Ziel verfolgen, zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt Handball auf dem US-Markt zu positionieren“, sagt Gütschow. „Warum nicht irgendwann Dubai gegen Chicago, München gegen Liverpool? Wir müssen lernen, Handball zu träumen.“

Klubs aus kleineren Städten seien keineswegs ausgeschlossen. Ein Team wie die Kadetten Schaffhausen etwa könne in Zürich als „Swiss Cadetts“ spielen, so Gütschow, auch sei ein deutsch-dänisches Joint Venture von Klubs wie Kopenhagen und Flensburg denkbar. „Erst wenn so etwas passiert, machen wir den ersten Schritt auf NBA-Niveau. Die Spitze der Branche muss sich von Provinzimage und Kapuzenjacken trennen.“

Das Spieljahr soll von Februar bis Dezember dauern. Zwei Klubs sollen aus Deutschland stammen. „Das würde auch den Kalender der Bundesliga entlasten. Wir streben ein partnerschaftliches Verhältnis mit den nationalen Ligen an“, betont Gütschow.

Ihm und Vargo schweben eine konsequente Markenbildung der Klubs vor. Außerdem will die PHL mit einem Pool aus Profischiedsrichtern arbeiten, die Regeln vereinfachen, Videobeweise einführen und sogenannte Wurfuhren einführen, um Passivität zu unterbinden und das Spiel schneller zu machen.

Die Finanzierung der neuen Liga sei durch die Übernahme von TV- und Werberechten bereits gesichert, sagt Gütschow, aber vor 2019 sei der Start der PHL nicht möglich: „So etwas braucht eine gewissenhafte Vorbereitung mit erfahrenen Spitzenkräften für das Management.“ Und dann ist da ja noch mit starkem Gegenwind seitens Internationaler Handball-Föderation (IHF) und der EHF zu rechnen.

„Eine solche Liga ist möglich“, glaubt Frank Bohmann, der Geschäftsführer der Handball-Bundesliga (HBL), die als stärkste nationale Liga der Welt gilt. „Auf jeden Fall verschärft diese Liga den Wettbewerb. Aber die Dachverbände werden sich auf die Hinterbeine stellen.“ Er rechnet mit Sperren gegen die PHL-Profis, mit harten juristischen Konflikten. „Es ist nachvollziehbar, dass die Verbände ihre Monopolstellung bei der Organisation von Handballveranstaltungen mit Sanktionen behaupten wollen“, erwartet auch Gütschow Widerstände.

Ob die Weltliga kommt oder nicht, liege aber letztlich in der Hand der großen Klubs aus Paris, Barcelona, Veszprém, Kiel, Berlin oder Flensburg, stellt Giorgio Behr, der starke Mann hinter dem Schweizer Champions-League-Teilnehmer Schaffhausen klar. Deutschlands erfolgreichstes Handballteam, der THW Kiel, scheint gewillt. „Wir sind wie andere Topklubs von den Initiatoren über dieses Projekt informiert worden und sehen darin eine große Chance“, sagte THW-Geschäftsführer Thorsten Storm dem Handelsblatt. Eine Entscheidung steht zwar noch aus, aber der Frust ist groß. In der Champions League gebe es etliche Baustellen – etwa die begrenzten Vermarktungsmöglichkeiten und die viel zu hohe Belastung der Spieler, beklagt Storm. Das wollen die Vereine ändern: „Wir bezahlen die Spieler, die Spieler werfen die Tore, aber die Regeln bestimmen andere.“

Das im Jahr 2007 gegründete Forum Club Handball (FCH) fungiert, wie die European Club Association (ECA) im Profifußball, als Interessenorganisation der europäischen Spitzenklubs. FCH-Geschäftsführer Gerd Butzeck, 57, äußert sich zu den Plänen einer Weltliga. 

Herr Butzeck, ist das Modell einer privat organisierten Handball-Liga realistisch?

Warum nicht? Immer wieder kommt von verschiedenen Seiten der Ruf nach einer von den Klubs selbst organisierten Champions League auf. Im Basketball, Eishockey und im Rugby wird die Champions League von Firmen organisiert, die mehrheitlich den Klubs gehören. Kürzlich hat ECA-Präsident Karl-Heinz Rummenigge geäußert, dass er sich eine europäische Superliga mit den Topklubs aus England, Deutschland, Spanien, Italien und Frankreich, entweder privat oder von der Uefa organisiert, durchaus vorstellen könne.

Die Topvereine im Handball hadern mit der wirtschaftlichen Bilanz ihrer Champions League.

Die Velux Champions League hat sich zu einem etablierten Produkt entwickelt. Die Einnahmen der Klubs sind allerdings in den vergangenen Jahren nicht gestiegen. Einige Vereine sind mit der Champions League nicht einverstanden, weil zu viele Spiele stattfinden – andere, weil zu wenige Spiele stattfinden. Alle kritisieren gemeinsam, dass die Ausschüttung an die Vereine zu gering ist.

Eine privat organisierte Liga wird auch den Weltverband IHF berühren. Stört das das Verhältnis der Klubs zur IHF?

Die Klubs beklagen die Ignoranz der IHF auf allen Ebenen. Während der Weltfußball­verband Fifa mit der ECA eine Vereinbarung getroffen hat, negiert die IHF die Existenz der Klubs. Gespräche finden nicht statt. Die IHF regiert den Handball, ohne mit den Hauptprotagonisten, den Klubs, zu sprechen. Regeländerungen, etwa der Fernsehbeweis, passives Spiel oder die Blaue Karte werden ohne jede Rücksprache mit den Klubs eingeführt und wieder abgeschafft. Eine private Liga könnte die bestehenden verkrusteten Strukturen aufbrechen und das Produkt nachhaltig verbessern.

Wie werden die Klubs auf die Offerte der PHL reagieren?

Sie werden das Angebot aufmerksam studieren, wenn es sich um einen attraktiven Wettbewerb mit deutlich besseren Einnahmemöglichkeiten handelt. Die EHF wird über einen konkurrierenden Wettbewerb natürlich nicht begeistert sein, da sie ihr Budget teilweise aus den Einnahmen der Champions League generiert. Aber die letzte Entscheidung werden die Klubs treffen müssen.