The Turku club is applying for a place in the hockey SM league for next season. The CEO of the SM League, Mikko Pulkkinen, opened the future plans for the series system to Urheilu.
The Finnish Ice Hockey Championship League presented issues related to the league license to the media on Thursday.
At the event, it was reported that a total of 17 applications have been received for the next season. All 15 league clubs of the moment are included. In addition to them, it has already been known that Kiekko-Espoo is aiming for a place in the main league.
In addition to Kiekko-Espo, Tuto Hockey, which plays in Mestis, is also applying for a league license for next season.
The license committee will process the applications by the end of this year. After that, the final decision is made by the general meeting of the SM league.
The SM League announced earlier this fall that the league qualifiers will return in the spring of 2025. Then the winner of Mestis will qualify for a place in the SM League with the last-placed club.
Before that, promotion to the league is possible without qualifying. Kiekko-Espoo and Tuto’s possible promotion to the main league will therefore be decided by license applications.
Mesti’s reigning champion Kiekko-Espoo is currently second in the series. Tuto is sixth.
Jokerit already announced at the beginning of October that it is not going to apply for a SM league license for the next season. The club wants to aim for the league later through the qualifiers.
From the chairman of the SM league board Heikki from Hiltus was asked at the event if Tuto’s application came as a surprise.
– Nothing surprises here anymore, Hiltunen joked.
– In fact, I would have expected even more applications, he continued.
Decisions in March at the latest
CEO of the SM League Mikko Pulkkinen tells Urheilu that the license committee will review the applications and ask any additional questions until the turn of the year.
– I believe that that phase will be over at the turn of the year and we will be able to move towards decision-making. In March at the latest, we are aware of those who have passed the license application.
Pulkkinen does not assess how realistic it is that Kiekko-Espoo or Tuto will play in the SM league next season.
– I am aware that the applications have arrived on time, but I have not been able to participate in the process yet. We will evaluate later at the end of the year, when we are aware of how the process is progressing.
The themes are competitiveness and excitement
Next, the SM league must adjust its series program with Mestis so that the league qualifiers are played on a reasonable schedule for both sides. According to Pulkkinen, you must always keep in mind that the Main Series will remain exciting throughout the season.
– Competitiveness and excitement throughout the season are the theme with which the new series program is built.
A and B league in the future?
When talking about the series systems of the SM league, for example, a possible A-league and B-league have been brought up. Pulkkinen opens up a little about his thoughts on the future, although he states that the series system being built now is valid for the time being.
However, the SM league is constantly looking at how the “situation is developing”.
– It involves economic matters, regional vitality and all of this, how the macroeconomics develops and society in general. How many are possibly interested in the league?
– In the future, it raises questions about what the alternative model is. If there are more teams that can be considered that pass the license criteria and requirements, the model must be reconsidered.
SM league license procedure: