Alexey Krasnov took part in the curtain-raising event of the forum, a round-table discussion of hockey finances that also featured NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, EHC President and SC Bern CEO Marc Luthi and IIHF Council Member Franz Reindl. The panel debated ways of levelling the financial playing field in European leagues, making tournaments more competitive and avoiding the problems of ‘chequebook’ clubs dominating championships by virtue of spending power rather than player development.
The KHL is in the process of introducing an ever-tighter salary cap, backed up by a cap floor, to help with this. Krasnov explained: “We have three goals related to finance: the financial stability of the clubs, growth of club’s commercial income and financial fair play – all of which will be accomplished through the cap ceiling and floor.”
The KHL is in an enviable position compared with many European countries, where employment legislation can make a salary cap unlawful. Luthi, in particular, was skeptical about the idea of a salary cap in European leagues. “Yes, it would be good if we had some kind of controlled system because not every team follows the principle of not spending more, but it’s not easy to implement this kind of system within the existing legal system.”
Reindl, meanwhile, was more sympathetic to the idea. “We can’t say ‘It’s not possible’. We have to find a way. I’m absolutely in favour of finding a better way to control costs, especially salaries.”
Sergey Dobrokhvalov, the KHL’s Vice President for Marketing and Communication, explained how the league is adopting cutting-edge technologies to enhance its engagement with fans.
He spoke to delegates about the newly-signed agreement with SAP, which aims to develop an in-depth understanding of the relationship between fans, clubs and the league as a whole. “We are working with SAP to implement a system that will allow to collect and analyze information about people who are interested in our league and clubs,” he said. “Our goal is to get to know every fan over the next four years and develop opportunities to interact with them at a one-to-one level.”
Dobrokhvalov also talked about the smart puck data stream introduced for all KHL games this season to track player and puck movements in real-time throughout the game. Previously, this data could only be updated by someone sitting at a computer.
“What we called real time before was not really real time,” Sergey Dobrokhvalov admitted. “Now we can really call these real-time statistics.”