Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Gone... But A Mess Still Lingers

Well, the shoe finally dropped in Bratislava, Slovakia yesterday as KHL squad HC Slovan Bratislava finally made their exit official from the Russian professional circuit. The seven years that the team played in the KHL saw them struggle in almost every campaign to make the playoffs, and it was clear from the beginning that there was likely going to be spending problems with how little they had invested in the talent on the ice. As the costs to run the team mounted, there were reports of players not being paid and the rumours of HC Slovan Bratislava's leaving the KHL seemed to be an annual summer story. That all changes now that they made it official.

Here is the tweet confirming the news above.
With the conditions not met for this upcoming season and despite barely meeting said conditions in the previous few seasons, this move likely should have happened long ago before yesterday. Nevertheless, HC Slovan Bratislava is now free to return to its previous spot in the Slovak Tipsport Liga, but they may not be welcomed just yet as you'll see below.

According to Patrick Conway over on Conway's Russian Hockey Blog,
"...the club still owes money to the city of Bratislava for use of the Ondrej Nepela Arena, and there are wage arrears to players to be paid as well (ex-Slovan forwards Jeff Taffe and Kyle Chipchura spoke out about the debts on the weekend). According to the reliable Igor Eronko, the club owes about seven million Euros to various parties, which is more than half of the KHL salary cap for a season. Furthermore, the front-office individuals who have drawn most of the blame for the current fiasco, namely club President Juraj Široký and Sports Director Oldřich Štefl, appear to be remaining in their positions, which will not please the Slovan fans (the kindest interpretation of events must still concede that the current mess came about on Široký’s and Štefl’s watch)."
In other words, there's a lot to sort through regarding the financial obligations that the club still owes from its KHL days. I don't know how that will affect a potential rejoining into the Tipsport Liga, but you'd think that the Liga would do its due diligence and ensure that HC Slovan Bratislava would be coming back into the fold debt- and obligation-free from its KHL days.

In any case, one thing is certain: there will be no Slovakian entry in the KHL this season. For a league that is reportedly looking at expanding to Dubai, one would hope that the KHL does its background checks and due diligence in ensuring that the costs of running a franchise won't lead to a similar fate for any new teams.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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