Prague – Tomáš Král admitted that in 14 years, when he was president of the Czech Ice Hockey Association, not everything was successful according to his ideas. Nevertheless, he believes that his successors can build on a good foundation. The 58-year-old lawyer is happy with how hockey has stabilized economically. The new boss of the Czech Ice Hockey Association (CSLH) will be known on Saturday. The king did not want to name the candidate he liked the most.
“These fourteen years are a long period that cannot be summed up and evaluated in a few sentences. In 2008, I had no ambition to lead the CSLH, but I was convinced by the management that it was necessary to avoid the impending crash and save the union legally. The situation was critical. – in the middle of the year, the ČSLH was short of 60 million crowns and the union waged several fundamental legal disputes related to the organization of the championship in 2004. We solved both problems and I expected to end in ČSLH, but fate and the hockey movement were against it,” King said in an interview with CTK.
“As far as the economy is concerned, the next period has been quite successful. We cannot assess sports results in the same way, partly because it is a complex area with a number of contexts. internal and external,” King said.
Like the five union leadership candidates, he would like to see more support for hockey from the state. “Compared to abroad, sport in our country is financially undervalued, its support from the state budget is completely insufficient. In the European Union, we are walking on our heels. There is no than in Finland that hockey receives as much from the state treasury as all sports in our country put together. We lack winter stadiums, we are also lagging far behind in this regard. Youth sports are in general decline, and we had to deal with the most successful generation change in the history of our hockey,” Kral said.
He has a good feeling that he managed to elevate Czech hockey in the economic sphere. “We saved the union from bankruptcy, stabilized it and moved it to a completely different level. When I started it generated income of around 200 million crowns, now it is over half a billion We have eliminated debts that amounted to 70 million. At present, this represents a net financial situation. We have nearly 160 million in assets and nearly 300 million in our accounts. With our own commercialization, without subsidies, we have generated revenues of more than two billion euros historical”, said the king.
He is also pleased with how hockey has managed to weather the critical period of the coronavirus pandemic. “I consider it a miracle that during the pandemic I was able to organize government support for professional clubs, which essentially saved top-flight hockey,” King said.
He also recalled the functioning of the union in 2008, when he took office, and today. “In 2008, the union was based in the flooded offices of Karlín. It lacked 40 million to function and still owed 20 million to the clubs of the national teams”, clarified the king.
“When we started, there was only one person working in the union’s sports department. Today we have one of the best national team programs, we pay hundreds of youth coaches and we set up several development projects such as academies or Come Play Hockey. Not all of them work as we imagined. “The successors, however, have something to fall back on. And despite all the problems they face with rising energy prices, my successor will be able to focus primarily on sports, not on empty coffers and debts.” said the king.
He regrets not having canceled the adult hockey tables. “I’ve been striving for it since I took office and have offered it on several occasions. The severance package has been scrapped for players under ten, but my intentions and proposals to reform the rules transfer plans have been much more ambitious A new proposal is on the table now Of course, I can’t be satisfied with the sporting results, of course, and the ten-year wait (for a medal) is too long, even if we’ve played for medals five times in that time, but in hockey it doesn’t matter.”
Some things he would do differently over time. “Mostly, I would be more adamant about persuading others to accept changes that are inevitable. I mean the organization of competitions, their shrinking or the complexity of the training process,” King said.
“When I started, there were 24 teams in the junior extra league and we gradually reduced their number. Then we succumbed to promises that if the competitions weren’t top down, they would have more room in the clubs for quality coaching, training and placement of young hockey players.”The decision to restrict competition was finally made in 2019, but it should have been made sooner,” the King said.
According to him, the new president of the union will need resilience, as he will have to face a number of difficult situations and difficult decisions. “He must be a man who can – if necessary – command. He must in no way be an alibi who, in the interests of pleasing everyone, will back down and make broken promises. I also believe that the delegates will choose a person who can in the interests of hockey sacrifice and in the first place will be sport, not office or personal prestige,” King said.
He resigned last September after announcing that he had worked with the StB’s military counterintelligence under the previous regime. Subsequently, he reportedly received a number of offers from hockey and elsewhere. “However, I haven’t made a decision yet, first I want to occupy myself and enjoy things for which I haven’t had time. In addition, I have a law firm with which I am going to deal with,” said the king.
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