It’s a tricky situation for German ice hockey clubs. They’ve all been training for a long time and now they want to play, but under these circumstances they can’t do that. The German Ice Hockey League (DEL) made it very clear last week that it would not be able to start the season without financial support.
60 million euros should be missing if the stadiums are only allowed to be filled with 20 percent of the usual stadium capacity in the coming season, as is currently the case with football and other sports. The occupancy rate is also dependent on the infection rate at the respective locations. In the worst case, nobody is allowed to watch – in this sport, which is so dependent on viewer income and which earns significantly less TV money than football, for example, threatening news. “We have to talk to politicians about what help will come,” said DEL managing director Gernot Tripcke: “The announced things have to be tied down at some point.”
Otherwise? The start of the season will have to be postponed a second time. Actually it should have started a week ago on September 18th. The DEL is giving itself until October 2nd to develop new funds. By the way, by “help”, Tripcke primarily means the funds from the federal government’s economic stimulus package, which theoretically promises each of the 14 clubs € 800,000. According to the club, it’s basically only a fraction of what they lose with the reduced number of spectators.
With smaller clubs like the Straubing Tigers, just a little more than 1000 spectators should enter the ice rink – with 2500 season tickets already sold, a lottery would have to be drawn. The clubs would therefore prefer an increase in spectator capacity, but this is difficult to convey with the currently increasing number of infections in Germany, even if the DEL declares that it has already developed appropriate hygiene concepts.
Leon Draisaitl, who was named the best player in the main round in the North American NHL on Tuesday night, appeals to the politicians: “I think German ice hockey simply needs enormous help. They deserve it,” he said. Born in Cologne, he enjoyed his training in youth teams in Cologne and Mannheim.
The Swiss league could serve as a role model – as good or bad
It looks completely different in the “Ice Hockey League”. The league with teams from Austria, Italy, Hungary and Slovakia started on Friday. Many spectators were not allowed there either: around 1000 fans each saw the first four games, but the many necessary crossings could slow down the competition in the next few months.
With their national league, the Swiss want to show how it can be done with a larger stadium. Although not everyone in the country is quite comfortable with it. The season starts there on October 1st, when two thirds of the seats can be occupied. There will be around 25,000 spectators in the stadiums per matchday, with different hygiene concepts: fever is measured at SC Bern, but not in Zurich. It is compulsory to wear a mask, spectators are only allowed to remove the mask while eating. If they do it in other situations, there is a two-year stadium ban. The anxious question remains whether the league will become a good or bad example for the rest of the ice hockey leagues in Europe.
Incidentally, the players and coaches do not have to wear masks in the hall, but they are nevertheless sensitized. “We have the motto: Be smart!” Said Davos striker Perttu Lindgren from Zurich Sunday newspaper. “We discussed within the team that we wanted to avoid clubs and bars,” said Lausanne defender Robin Grossmann. “Out of consideration for the colleagues in general, but also for those who currently have pregnant partners.”
Sufficient distance should also be ensured in the cabin and mask requirements should apply. It’s a fine line, yes, but if it somehow works with ice hockey in Switzerland and Austria, the DEL’s negotiating position for more spectator capacity could perhaps also strengthen.