On Friday, the 17th of November, 2017, the Kontinental Hockey League top management gathered in Moscow to discuss the short-term, and particularly the long-term future, namely the seven-year strategy introduced in 2016 and stretching to the year 2023.
The seven-year strategy was devised to reach three distinct but related objectives: to improve the level of sporting excellence in the KHL; to reduce the clubs' dependence on public funding; and to strengthen the League's commercial potential. The project encompasses the improvement and development on the sporting and competitive level, and demands further and continued improvement to infrastructure, arenas, medical and anti-doping facilities, refereeing, marketing of clubs and of KHL TV, licensing, online projects and communications. For each of these, the League has devised a set of targets for 2023 with measurable parameters.
In the short term, the focus will be on optimizing the schedule of the Championship. It is planned that from next year the schedule will be provided to the member clubs at least two-and-a-half to three months before the start of the season, and that the opening match will be scheduled for early September.
One of the key goals in the development of the League is to strengthen the clubs' commercial potential. The KHL will examine the possibility of waiving its exclusive rights in many commercial and sponsorship categories, in order to encourage the clubs to attract more commercial partners.
The current format for the sharing of TV revenues among the clubs will remain unchanged. The plannedgeographical expansion of the League will enable an annual increase in this sum. Clubs which attract new commercial partners and work effectively at increasing the fan base will receive additional revenue from the League.
The vast majority of the League's arenas are still in need of some modernization, such as improvements in the quality of lighting and replacement of the perimeter boards. In the event of any club showing reluctance to allocate funds for the modernization of its arena, then the level of allocated income for that club shall be reviewed.
The League is improving the quality of the televised product year on year. By the end of last season, the level of broadcast coverage reached 96% of games, and the percentage of broadcasts in HD has increased over the last three years from 50% to 80%. We plan to see an annual increase of broadcasts in high definition, reaching 99% by the 2020-21 season.
The KHL is determined to maintain a highly vigilant role in tackling violations of the anti-doping rules, and we have therefore put in a huge amount of work to resume anti-doping measures following the the suspension of the activities of RUSADA and Russia's isolation from the international anti-doping movement. The fight against doping will form an integral part of the development of the League over the coming years. We plan an increase in the number of doping tests of at least 10% each season, and to aid the efforts of the clubs' staff and players in this battle, the League will develop an anti-doping educational program.
The Members of the KHL Executive Board will prepare a joint opinion on the draft seven-year strategy, and the revised document will be submitted for consideration and further approval by the KHL Board of Directors.
Dmitry Chernyshenko, KHL President:
“In May, the Board entrusted me with the task of drafting a project for the development of the League up to 2023, and today this plan was presented to the Executive. I hope the proposed course of action will raise the level of competition and increase the commercial potential of the clubs and the League, and will also help to reduce government involvement in the financing of professional hockey. Clubs can and should earn money and attract new investors, and the League will do everything in its power to help them. We will also increase payments to clubs from the sale of TV rights, and will introduce additional incentives for the clubs to use these funds to upgrade their arenas, increase spectator comfort at matches, and work closely with the fans.”
Shamil Khusnutdinov, Member of the Executive Board, and KHL Clubs Interaction Representative:
“The main issue is the commercial aspect of the the League and its clubs' activities. If the game of hockey is not earning, then clubs will face great difficulties. We in hockey must increase revenue in order to reduce thefinancial burden on those companies that sponsor us. In this respect, the League is moving forward, setting the right goals, and aiding the clubs. This is clear to all, and not just my own view. Let us hope that all the plans that we have devised will be implemented, and the game will become more attractive financially. Anotherpositive is the League's distribution of its profits among the clubs, who should in turn spemnd this money on development. In order to sell a product, it must be attractive and of high quality, so here the League is concentrating on the core issues.”
Alexei Morozov, Member of the Executive Board, and KHL Vice-President for Youth Development, added:
“The League is already working on establishing next season's schedule, and as always, we will liaise closely with the clubs to ensure that the calendar is fair and acceptable to all. The KHL's close cooperation with the Russian Hockey Federation, with regards to adjusting our schedule to accommodate the World Championships and the Eurotour stages, will continue to be a top priority.”
Among other developments, it was confirmed that the KHL's exclusive right to host the Russian Women's Hockey Championship, which also comes under the 2023 Strategy, was extended by a further four years.