Before today’s away match in Bregenz (5.30 p.m.), the handball players of HC Linz AG have little hope of escaping this year’s relegation play-off. The six point deficit on the saving bank seems too big. It would be the second time after 2019 that the seven-time champion has to play in the decisive games to stay in the league. While the club is trying to at least stop the downward spiral – without a win since December – in the four remaining qualifying round games, there could still be a happy ending on the other side: On April 17th, an ÖHB presidium conference will discuss an increase in the spusu league matched from ten to twelve clubs. If this goes through, it would mean that HC Linz would stay in the league. “This requires a two-thirds majority,” says Hubert Gostner, who is entitled to vote as President of the Upper Austrian Association. The idea of an increase is not new. “The league has wanted this since 2017,” said Gostner. They now want to embed this in a major restructuring that will put the youth sector on a new footing.
A third division is being considered
The plan is to recruit a third division that is divided into east and west. The HLA teams should be obliged to have their junior teams compete against men’s teams in this, while the previous U20 league is dissolved. “With Traun, Wels and a syndicate made up of Edelweiss and Neue Heimat, three teams from Upper Austria have already expressed their interest in such a league,” says Gostner. Many national associations and clubs were involved in the development of this concept, which increases the chance that it will be adopted on April 17th.
HC Linz has to hide the league decision. “We prefer to concentrate on what we can influence: the sporting side,” says manager Uwe Schneider. (pue)
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