Attended by EHF President Michael Wiederer and the SEHA - Gazprom League Vice-Presidents Bozidar Djurkovic and Tomislav Grahovac and Managing Director Sinisa Ostoic, SEHA – Gazprom League President Mihajlo Mihajlovski and Alexander Meshkov (Gazprom) informed the media in a press conference in Sports Center Jane Sandanski on Sunday morning about the development and the future of the competition.
Mihajlo Mihajlovski underlined the fact that the Final 4 now is for the second time in Skopje, in the home of the current EHF Champions League winner - and the competition and the event definitely have improved since the premiere in 2013: “Eight years ago, when we started this league, there were many doubts, how long this competition would survive, but there was no reason to worry, when you see today’s quality in all departments, mainly, when you look on the level of the teams.”
As all top teams of the SEHA – Gazprom League, including all Final 4 participants of this season, are successful participants in the EHF Champions League, Mihajlovski pointed out that the SEHA - Gazprom League at least is on the same level as the German or French leagues, maybe even better. “For example, Veszprem was three seasons part of our league, made it three times to the finals of the SEHA – Gazprom League and parallel to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne. This year, they do not play in SEHA – Gazprom League, and failed already in the Last16 of the Champions League on their way to Cologne. This shows that club reach a top level, when they are part of the SEHA – Gazprom League.”
But the Macedonian hopes that the general level of the competition will rise even more: “We are in constant cooperation and discussion with the clubs to work on the playing system. Maybe a solution is to have more teams, but less matches.” In terms of the title sponsor, Mihajlovski is “proud to have a brand like Gazprom, which is part of the development of the SEHA - Gazprom League.”
Alexander Meshkov from title sponsor Gazprom praised the development of the SEHA – Gazprom League, too. “Five years ago, we had the first Final 4 under our patronage. Now, we see the result of our great work, a high-quality event as the final spectacle for one of the best leagues in Europe.” Meshkov’s biggest dream is that all participants of the Champions League FINAL4 in Cologne come from SEHA – Gazprom: “When Vardar won the trophy in Cologne last year it was the start.”
Besides, Meshkov mentioned the international fan base and coverage of the competition, which is another reason, why Gazprom is sponsor of the competition: “It is not only people from Balkan countries, but fans and TV spectators from all over Europe interested in the SEHA – Gazprom League.” Still, many goals are ahead, Meshkov pointed out, praising the cooperation with the league organizers. And: “Where Gazprom is, is victory”.
EHF President Michael Wiederer called the FINAL4 a “top-level event”, adding: “The Champions League Final 4 in Cologne is a lighthouse, but you need more lighthouses at a coast than only one.” Besides, he praised the cooperation of competition with its sponsor: “Gazprom is a strong brand and strong brands support each other.”