Done with phone and video conferencing. Thanks to a special permit, the representatives of the National and Swiss League meet on Monday for an extraordinary league meeting in the PostFinance Arena in Bern. In order to keep a good distance, the club bosses do not have to spread out where the ice is. You sit in the area where the VIPs usually sip champagne.
However, they do not feel like partying – even if the same day they can finally do sports again and train in groups. There is no fear of a corona party like the one recently held by some parliamentarians.
It takes a two-thirds majority
For the professional clubs, it’s about planning the next season and opening the parachutes so that the damage caused by the corona crisis can be kept within limits. Sporting arguments are of secondary importance. It’s all about money, about survival.
On the agenda the topic descent and ascent. And one seems to agree: next season there will be no relegation, but there will still be a relegation – provided the Swiss League champion meets the economic criteria. A two-thirds majority of NL and SL clubs is required for this mode change, which is the aim of a vote.
Pre-playoffs as a treat for TV
In addition, a new mode for the coming season overshadowed by the corona virus is coming to the table in Bern. The first six of the qualification should secure the ticket for the quarterfinals ahead of time. Behind it there are pre-playoffs as you know them from Germany, Finland or Sweden. In a best-of-3 series, the seventh meets the tenth and the eighth meets the ninth.
This means that ten out of twelve teams can enjoy playoff hockey, and the last two also land softly because there is no relegation team. Also not unimportant: For the TV partners (MySports and the SRG) there is a treat in the form of additional games after the playoffs were completely eliminated this spring and the screen was ruled out.
Decisions regarding the medium-term planning should then only be made on June 17 at the ordinary league meeting, where a three-quarters majority will no longer be necessary. Then you will have to agree on how to play from 2021/22. Will relegation be postponed longer to save clubs’ finances? What does the mode look like if you should have 13 teams in the National League? And above all: will the number of foreigners increase?
Does the alien restriction drop in June?
Only two years ago, SCB boss Marc Lüthi, who vehemently campaigned for an opening, failed upright when it was voted whether to play with six instead of four foreigners. In the meantime the wind has changed. The reasoning remains the same: if you remove all or part of the restriction on foreigners (e.g. increase to eight mercenaries), the supply of players increases and thus the prices decrease.
Nobody knows whether the bill will work. Because not only the wages of the Swiss, but also those of the foreigners, are too high for us in relation to the income.
Salary cap or luxury tax against wage madness?
Other models are also being discussed: A wage cap for the teams like in the NHL (Salary Cap) is less likely to fail due to legal hurdles than the lack of trust and control options. The proposal of a luxury tax for excessive wages was worked out a few years ago and could now be pulled out of the drawer again.
But first the total corona damage must be prevented. One hopes above all for a signal from politics that within a useful period of time not only can be played, but can also be played in front of spectators and thus season ticket sales, which are important for the liquidity of the clubs, will get going.