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Jokerit confirm KHL switch

Helsinki ice hockey club Jokerit have confirmed that they will play in Eastern Europe's Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) from the 2014-15 season. The switch was approved on Wednesday by the board of the Finnish hockey league.

Jokerit juhlii
Image: Lehtikuva

Jokerit had announced their intention to move to the Russian-based KHL earlier in the year, but they had to wait until this week to finally secure approval from the Finnish hockey league. Russian investors will take a 49 percent stake in the club, and they already own Jokerit’s home, the Helsinki Arena.

Long-time Jokerit owner Harry Harkimo will retain a controlling 51 percent stake in the club. His new partner, Arena Events chair Roman Rotenberg, said he believes the unprecedented move over the eastern border will be a success.

“We believe that Jokerit can succeed as a team in the KHL both on the ice and financially,” said Rotenberg at a press conference on Wednesday. “We believe that Jokerit can become one of the best teams in Europe.”

The KHL currently has 28 clubs, including seven from outside Russia. Jokerit is the first team from outside the former eastern bloc to announce it will join the league. The competition currently has clubs from Vladivostok in the Russian far east to Zagreb in Croatia.

The change will require skilled management if Jokerit are to succeed in their new environment. Harkimo is currently seeking a new leader to take his team into the KHL.

“At the moment we are looking for a CEO who can build Jokerit’s organisation for the coming KHL season,” said Harkimo. He is hoping to appoint the new executive before Christmas.

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