Russia's gas-powered KHL hockey league looks at Prague
Prague - Russia's Continental Hockey League (KHL) is very close to expanding to the Czech capital, wrote Insider, a Czech investigative daily.
The first important fact is that the owners of Lev Poprad, a KHL hockey club from Slovakia, have moved the company seat to Prague.
The second thing to know is that MND, a Czech oil company owned by billionaire Karel Komárek, has become one of the key sponsors of the league. The EUR 3mil contract emerged as a side effect of Komárek's deal with Gazprom Export, a branch of Russia's state-controlled gas giant. Crucially, Gazprom Export's CEO is Alexander Medvedev, who is also the president of the KHL.
In addition, Komárek and another Czech billionaire, Petr Kellner, will soon own another hockey-related firm - Bestsport. The company operates the Prague O2 arena, currently in an insolvency procedure.
Both investors have realized that they will not be able to sell the stadium for any reasonable price now, so they must find another way of how to make it profitable.
And in terms of revenues, the Czech hockey league cannot compete with the Russian gas-propelled international KHL.
Talks about the Russian league being played in Prague have already started - on various levels. But as during any big business deal, nobody will confirm them while they are still in progress.
The best option for Komárek would be to have two teams playing the KHL in Prague's O2 Arena. In addition to Poprad (presumably playing under a different name), he will also need an authentic Prague-based team.
And one of Karel Komárek's close friends is Antonín Charouz, the owner of Prague's Sparta hockey club.
Sparta's start in the KHL is far from being assured though, given the club's insufficient finances as well as other issues. But, according to a source well-informed about the Czech hockey, "it is all about being able to negotiate financial conditions and new contracts. It's just business."
with Karel Komarek and especialy Petr Kellner interested in KHL in Prague it looks very very promising ... they're simply too powerful in this region