EHF DECISIONS: Champions League with 16 clubs, more rest for players!

Meeting in Paris ahead of the final matches of the Women’s EHF EURO 2018, the EHF Executive Committee has reached its first decisions for release to the international media.

The EHF Executive has approved a raft of changes relating to the federation’s top club competitions, the international calendar and a new ‘appointment to view’ for top competitions from the start of the 2020/21 season.

This final approval at the Paris meeting follows extensive consultation with all of the federation’s stakeholders including clubs, leagues and players as well as national teams through their representation on EHF boards as well as with the EHF and EHF Marketing’s new commercial partners from 2020, Infront and DAZN Group.

16-team format for EHF Champions League

Both the men’s and the women’s EHF Champions League will be played in a 16-team format from the 2020/21 season.

Playing in two groups of eight, the EHF’s premier club handball competitions will be played in a round-robin group phase, a play-off knock-out round (with teams ranked 3-6 from the group phase), quarter-finals and the EHF FINAL4.

The top two teams in each group will bypass the play-off round and jump straight to the quarter-finals.

European Handball League – format change and a new name for second tier competitions

There is a completely new development on the second tier of European competitions. This level of competition will be given a fresh look under the banner of the ‘European Handball League’.

The men’s competition will be played with 24 teams in the group phases (four groups of six teams each) and the women’s competition with 16 teams (four groups of four teams).

In a new development, the Women’s European Handball League will also conclude with a final-four tournament at the end of the season, bringing it in line with the men’s competition, which has been played with the EHF Cup Finals since 2012.

Challenge Cup becomes EHF Cup

The third level of European competition will be retained with the Challenge Cup becoming the new EHF Cup from the start of the 2020/21 season.

International calendar: longer break for top players confirmed

A full 20 months ahead of the start of the season, the international calendar for 2020/21 has been approved.

Following proposals developed by a special taskforce comprising stakeholders including representatives of clubs, leagues and players, the international calendar has been adapted to provide players with a longer break ahead of the next season.

This will be achieved by rescheduling the EHF’s national team weeks from mid-June each year to late April/beginning May. Players will no longer be required to play any European qualification matches after the end of the club season.

A further change will see a rescheduling of the men’s and women’s EHF FINAL4 events. From 2020/21 these events will mark the official end of the season across Europe.

The women’s event will be scheduled for the end of May and the men’s for mid-June. All national leagues will be required to finish one week before the respective women’s or men’s EHF FINAL4 events.

Appointment to view: mid-week move for top men’s competitions

From 2020/21 handball fans will also know exactly when to tune into watch their favourite club playing in top-class European club handball action.

It has been confirmed that both the Men’s EHF Champions League and European Handball League will move to mid-week slots.

The Men’s EHF Champions League with 16 teams will be played on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

The second-tier Men’s European Handball League will be played on Tuesday evenings, with an option for selected matches to be played on Wednesdays.

All women’s competitions including the Women’s EHF Champions League and European Handball League will continue to be played at set times on Saturdays and Sundays.

The new third tier, EHF Cup, mainly involving non-professional or semi-professional teams will also be played at the weekend.

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