Rhein Neckar Lowen will play the first match of the VELUX EHF Champions League TOP 16 phase in Kielce with “B team”. That is the conclusion of complete mess between European Handball Federation and DKB Bundesliga in terms of schedule after became clear that Bundesliga’s derby between RNL and THW Kiel will take place in the same time as TOP 16 matches of two German teams.
The German champions wrote in statement that they don’t want to be a ball between EHF and DKB Bundesliga anymore. The “Lions” declined option to change host right with PGE Vive Kielce (to play first match at home).
+ On March 24 we play in the league at THW Kiel. This game will be broadcast live on Free TV on ARD.
+ The periods for the Champions League knockout matches are 21.3. until 25.3. (First leg) and 28.3. to 1.4. (Leg)
+ In the group phase of the Champions League we have – likeTHW Kiel – fought the home right over 14 games away, ie. the right to play the decisive return leg in the second round at home in the SAP Arena.
+ The foreign clubs want to play their home matches during a weekend (24./25.3.). Since we play against THW Kiel (compete in TOP 16 against Szeged) on March 24, that is the first problem that could not be solved in numerous discussions.
+ For the DKB Handball Bundesliga, the THW Kiel and us a re-schedule of the league game is hard to imagine: As one of the few games in free TV, it is an important opportunity for us, our fans and our partners, advertising our sport in front of a wide audience.
+ Finally, after consulting with our team, we even offered to play both games on a weekend (24./25.3) – Saturday in Kiel, Sunday in Kielce. A burden that is actually unreasonable, which we would have supported including our team, but to find a solution. The EHF rejected this possibility and insisted that the Champions League match on March 24. For which reason, it is inexplicable to us.
+ The EHF has finally set an ultimatum: Either we relocate our league match and play the first knockout round first leg on 24.3. or we have to give up our home right.
+ We informed the EHF this morning that we will not agree to change home right.
We will not give up what we have fought hard for and earned in 14 group matches together with our fans: namely the right to a return leg at home. We don’t want to let to take from us earned reward and an attractive appointment – especially if there were other solutions.
We have tried to compromise and make concessions in numerous discussions – even if they have been painful. Now a limit has been reached and we will not continue to be a plaything in the power struggle between the EHF and the HBL. We see it as the task of both associations to create the best opportunities for our sport and thus to promote handball together. We do not expect any preference over other clubs or special rules – but we expect fairness, transparency and objectivity, and above all action in the interest of our sport and our players – free of power.
Now the EHF has told us the dates of the game:
On Saturday, March 24, we start at 18:10 clock in the DKB Handball Bundesliga in Kiel – and parallel on 24.3. at 16.00 in Kielce.
On the 1st of April at 19.00, we will play the second knockout round match against Kielce in the SAP Arena.
We will travel with our second team to Poland. For the guys who love and live handball this will be an incredible experience – but of course we are also very aware that there will be no more athletic fair comparison at TOP 16. We regret that very much – but unfortunately have no other alternative.
We will all go full throttle together in the second match at SAP Arena – then it’s all about our sport and the competition between two teams with the same means as it should be.