MOSCOW, March 19 (R-Sport) - Gdansk’s bid to become Poland’s first KHL hockey team next season has foundered for financial reasons, league president Alexander Medvedev said Tuesday.
The failure is a blow to Medvedev’s dream of expanding the Russia-based KHL westwards across Europe all the way to Britain to create a true rival to the North American NHL.
“Gdansk will not succeed in finding financing for next season, although the infrastructure there is very good,” Medvedev said at a news conference at RIA Novosti.
The announcement comes five days after KHL inspectors approved the team's arena to host games. New KHL teams are required to prove they have suitable facilities and the money to assemble a competitive team.
As well as Gdansk, some of the other four candidates to join next season are experiencing problems, Medvedev said.
Two Russian teams, one of which is a new team in Vladivostok and the other the former KHL team Lada Tolyatti, have not provided necessary assurances to the league, he said.
The KHL is still waiting for “confirmation from Vladivostok, because we would like to see a new Russian team,” Medvedev said. “Unfortunately, we’ve heard nothing from Lada. It’s very disappointing because Lada deserves to be in the KHL.”
As for Italy’s Milano Rossoblu and Croatian team Medvescak Zagreb, there is still work left to do, but “there is still time,” Medvedev said. Milano's bid to join for 2012-13 failed on financial grounds, but the Italian team is bidding again for 2013-14 entry.
He added he would be satisfied if two of the remaining four candidates succeeded in joining the league’s current 26 teams.
“It would be good if there are 28, but if it’s fewer then that’s nothing dreadful,” he said.
The KHL covers seven countries. All of the countries apart from Russia have one team each.