Mayor Korec about the Rams season, the extraleague license and the sale of the city’s share


“As a city, we want to be predictable, that’s why we say that we want to pay eight million for long-term advertising in the first hockey league, just as we pay eight million for football advertising,” says Jiří Korec.

Looking back, how do you rate the past season of the Rams?
This season cannot be evaluated in any other way than positively. We won the title in the first league and went through the play-off, where we unfortunately failed. It definitely taught us and strengthened us for the future. On the economic side, we managed to get into the plus, so the possible problems that threatened in December were averted. And that’s also thanks to sports results.

A year ago, however, anything but a return to the extra league would have been considered a failure…
If we consider the situation the team was in in November or December, when it was only a few points away from the last place and at the same time the club was in danger of going into negative numbers, up to minus fifteen million crowns, then the final result of the season from from this point of view actually a small miracle. To say now that the pre-season plans for an immediate return to the extra league failed to be fulfilled would be crazy given the state of the team, or rather the whole club.

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So can it be said that the treatment you prescribed by Robert Hamrla worked as expected?
Of course we can say that it took. From the position of the city, we can now be in quotation marks and beat our chests that this step was the right one. On the other hand, it must be said that it may not have been successful. So we are definitely satisfied. Whether this is a long-term condition remains to be seen. What has been started needs to be continued. No one wants a repeat of the situation at the beginning of this season’s end.

There were also other changes in the club. PSG’s ten percent stake in the club was recently half bought by two existing co-owners – Samohyl Holding and Trinity Bank. Both now own 15 percent. Is this a confirmation of what was said earlier, that is, that minority owners will first want to “look around” at the club and then possibly increase their stake in the club?
It more or less confirms what I was saying. I now see it as the stabilization of the club’s owners, and what will happen next remains to be seen. On behalf of the city, I can say that we remain constant in our view that the city’s 49% share remains available for purchase if an adequate offer comes. We are certainly not opposed to discussions about a sale, but nothing is currently on the table.

So, in your opinion, is it better for the greater stability of the club that the share of PSG was split between the existing co-owners and that no one else joined the club? Dakos was originally interested in this stake…
I confess that I am not a supporter of fragmenting the property structure. At the moment when someone new would come and take the place of another entity, we would be able to imagine it. In that case, the number of co-owners would remain the same – at five. As the existing co-owners bought out the PSG share, we are now four. I don’t think it would be good if the club had, for example, six or seven co-owners of five percent each, because it will only fragment and rather cause chaos in the club and at the same time it will not bring anything. That’s why I say less is sometimes more. For myself, I would ideally leave it to four subjects for a while now. And that’s also for the reason that recently there has been a lot of rhetoric here, where some potential partners of the club say that if they have to put money into the club, they also want to be its co-owners. This didn’t happen here before and it just started now. I can imagine that a few percent would be set aside for minority interested parties instead of selling advertising, as is sometimes the case abroad, but at the moment we have not addressed this option and the club thus offers advertising without any ties to ownership shares.

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Are these requirements related to the fact that the club is currently looking for a new general partner?
We are not in a situation where a general partner would condition his finances on an equity entry into the club… I have information that two potential partners have shown interest. The question is how it will turn out – if they decide to support the club and in what amount. However, Robert Hamrla has repeatedly publicly declared that he is ready to go into the season even without a general partner, i.e. that the club would be called Berani Zlín and that the free space on jerseys and advertising surfaces would be given to other partners that he contracts. So it is open. We also want the club to have slightly different finances than in previous seasons, so the search may take longer.

In addition to the general partner, Berani also deals with changes in the staff and preparation for the next year. What goal should the club have in the next season?
Our goal is of course to get back to the extra league. However, the question is when it will be possible. There will be more teams in the first league with similar ambitions next season than this year. It will therefore be more demanding, but our goals are still the same. If it does not succeed now, like for example Český Budějovice, who have been in the first league for several years, then the youth must also be dealt with, who must be of good quality and must educate new talents for the A-team, who will bring the club closer to the progress.

You already mentioned it. It is very difficult for clubs from the first league to advance to the extra league. In the past, teams often got there by buying a license from one of the extra-league clubs. Would this be an option for Zlín?
It’s a variant. If we were to receive such an offer, it would certainly be something to consider. After all, similar unofficial negotiations took place last season as well. However, we did not receive an official offer in the end. On the other hand, it must be said that everyone would like to progress more through sports. But the truth is that the current playoff system is somewhat ungrateful when “vacationers” compete against a team that has a difficult playoff.

It also has another dimension. At a time when it is so difficult to pass from the first league to the extra league, the sport is even more difficult to finance. When you go down and you don’t know if you’ll be able to get back in a year or two, the big question is how you’ll manage to keep your partners. The advantage of direct relegation and promotion like in football is that it is flexible and the club can bounce back quickly. On the contrary, if you go down in hockey, everyone knows that it is almost impossible to get back up through the current playoff system.

How big of an economic problem would it be if the Rams stayed in Chance’s league long-term?
A number of changes have already been made in the club, others were being completed now after the season. There were changes in the implementation team, players’ equipment also began to be addressed. Just for an example – in the extra league, the player dictates the parameters of the hockey stick, which is de facto custom-made for him, and then it also costs something. Whereas the first league is played with unified hockey sticks. There would be several similar examples.

Let’s stay with the money. How did the system prove when the city sent eight million crowns to the club and another two million as a bonus for advancing in the individual playoff rounds? Will it be like this next year?
I would just like to add that the city pays the club advertising fees for the calendar year, while the hockey season is roughly from September to May. We want to be predictable as a city, that’s why we say that we want to pay eight million for advertising in the first hockey league in the long term, just like we pay eight million for advertising in football. We perceive that the extra half a million for advertising for promotion to the playoffs has proven effective even in view of the higher attendance, and I think it is realistic that it will be similarly set for 2024 as well.

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You have already said that there is currently no offer on the table to buy the city’s stake in the club. Earlier you stated that there was an interest from Denmark, but in the end they did not come with any official offer. Would it be interesting for the city to sell a stake in the club to foreign investors?
On behalf of the city, I have to say that we will always deal mainly with the stability of the club that the interested party in question will guarantee. This is authoritative for us. If there is an investor group from abroad that declares that it will guarantee the long-term stability of the club, we are willing to act.
It should also be noted that the city cannot just sell its share to a person. We have to find a buyer, but in accordance with the social contract, all the co-owners have to approve it. It is an imaginary brake to protect the club from someone who is potentially untrustworthy or problematic. Therefore, if we are going to sell, we want a trustworthy partner.

Berani Zlín – ownership share:

City of Zlín 49%, Hokej Zlín zs 21%, Trinity Bank 15%, Samohyl Holding 15%

The article is in Czech

Tags: Mayor Korec Rams season extraleague license sale citys share


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