The KHL Board of Directors met on April 5 to discuss the coming season and several issues concerning the league’s continued development.

The meeting began with an update on the ongoing playoff series. The first two rounds produced a best ever average of 5.44 goals per game, with the Metallurg vs Avangard clash producing a record 51 goals. Metallurg’s haul of 26 tallies equalled the best for one team in a single series. In addition, with just four shut-outs in the opening two rounds, we have a new record in the KHL era: previously, the lowest number of shut-outs was eight.

22 teams next season

The 2022-2023 KHL campaign will run with 22 teams for four countries. Jokerit and Dinamo Riga have not applied to play and there were no new applicants from Russia’s second-tier VHL. Kunlun Red Star is set to continue representing China after the recent Beijing Olympics, and will play out of Mytishchi for a third season. Dinamo Minsk (Belarus) and Barys Nur-Sultan are the other teams from outside of Russia.

The full line-up is as follows: Admiral Vladivostok, Ak Bars Kazan, Amur Khabarovsk, Avangard Omsk, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, Barys Nur-Sultan, CSKA Moscow, Dinamo Minsk, Dynamo Moscow, HC Sochi, Kunlun Red Star Beijing, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, Salavat Yulaev Ufa, Severstal Cherepovets, Sibir Novosibirsk, SKA St. Petersburg, Spartak Moscow, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, Traktor Chelyabinsk, Vityaz Moscow Region.

Restrictions on team prizes

The board of directors agreed to limit the size of team prize payments that do not fall under the salary cap. From next season, the teams finishing second, third and fourth will have a limit to any bonus they can pay outside of the cap. For the second-placed team, the limit will be 150 million rubles, for third and fourth place it will be 75 million. The KHL champion will not be subject to any limit on bonus payments.

Salary cap and wage floor remain unchanged

The 2021-2022 regulations established a minimum salary budget of 315 million rubles for KHL clubs. This was due to increase to 405 million rubles for the coming season. However, current economic conditions mean this proposed increase could lead to an unjustified surge in player salaries. The KHL board decided to postpone the increase until 2023-2024 and continue at 315 million for one further season.

Preliminary figures suggest that in 2021-2022, four clubs failed to meet the wage floor requirement. The main reason for this was the early departure of several imports, who chose not to see out the full term of their contracts and left Russia. Under these circumstances, the KHL board voted to suspend any fines that would normally be levied against these clubs under the KHL regulations.

At the same time, the salary cap remains at its existing level of 900 million rubles.

Financial monitoring

The board’s committee for control over club’s activities continues its work. While monitoring clubs from July 2021 to Jan. 2022, the committee assessed several financial issues including compliance with financial fair play and the commercial effectiveness of clubs’ work.

Compared with the equivalent period of the previous season, the situation with debts has improved. There were fewer delays in making payments and the total amount in arrears was significantly less.

At a couple of clubs, minor violations were uncovered. Each of the clubs involved has been dealt with according to the league’s regulations. However, none of the incidents led to any club exceeding the salary cap.

Commercial strategy

In the spring of 2021, the KHL Board introduced a requirement for all clubs to develop a mid-term commercial strategy encompassing five key areas: communication with fans, attracting sponsors, ticketing programs, food and drink, and digital projects. These strategies should start next season.

Ten clubs have already submitted their commercial strategies to the league for preliminary evaluation. The relevant departments within the KHL have responded with recommendations and comments.

In late March, the league held a webinar with representatives of the commercial staff at the KHL’s clubs. More than 60 club representatives took part. Over several hours, they looked at several typical errors in commercial planning and shared recommendations about finalizing documents. Barys delivered a case study of how it successfully developed a fully-fledged commercial development plan for the club.

New clubs in the Junior League

The 2022-2023 Junior Hockey League will welcome two new members, taking the number of competing teams to 35. The newcomers are Akademia Mikhailova – Junior (Tula Region) and SKA-GUOR Karelia (Kondopoga).

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