Domestic at the second level of hockey in Mestis, big things will be decided on Monday when the board of the series meets to consider extending the season.
Mest was last played at the end of November. Since then, the series has been on hiatus because it is not financially possible to play for empty auditoriums and there is no money-making TV contract.
“The situation is challenging. Whatever decisions come, for some they are less bad than for others, ”says Kiekko-Espoo’s Chief Operating Officer Antti Manninen summarizes the spirit of the game.
Decisions by regional government agencies will limit audience numbers even after January. When income is zero and expenses are running, there are no good options available.
“It’s just like that. Of these bad ones, the least bad one should be chosen. If you start playing in empty auditoriums, the home match is also a mere cost ”, Kiekko-Vantaa’s CEO and Chairman of the Board Kai Chord says.
“Of these bad ones, the least bad one should be chosen.”
Mestis there was already a series of hand-to-mouth lives before the pandemic. Now the clubs are fighting in the midst of a crisis for their existence.
“For those who survive, there will be another season. I wouldn’t be happy to take the cost of playing for empty auditoriums here unless we find some support funding solution, ”says Sointu.
The ideas are similar in Espoo, where playing at full cost without an audience is the financially worst option.
“It is hardly possible to take in the audience terribly much or very quickly, which means that if the season should be continued without the audience, then it would require external funding,” Manninen says.
The clubs in the Helsinki metropolitan area have continued to operate as normally as possible, ie the rehearsals have rotated and the players have avoided layoffs.
“If the season were to continue without the public, then it would require outside funding.”
Situation is not as good everywhere, but co-determination negotiations, wage cuts and layoffs have followed one another. If the season continues, some teams have been away from ice practice for weeks.
In addition, clubs have lost players where they play – to the league, abroad and even to junior leagues. Arto Laatikainen left Espoo for HPK and Erik Autio at least temporarily to Ilves, Kiekko-Vantaa Matias Sointu headed to Graz99ers, Austria.
Rovaniemi Kiekko has suffered the hardest attacks. The top trio of the internal point exchange Ville Heikkinen, Gabin Ville and Joonas Alanne as well as the most powerful defender Sebastian Moberg terminated their contracts and went abroad.
Joensuu’s Kiekko-Pojat, on the other hand, had to give up his head coach in the midst of uncertainty when Joni Petrell your trip to Central Europe.
“Clubs are in such different situations depending on the regional corona situation, some have laid off all players and some have not. Others would be able to play because they calculate that they should not take the audience so much that playing for empty auditoriums would be a significant thing compared to normal expectations or budgeting, ”Manninen compares.
In the stands was in the fall spread all over the country, and Espoo and Vantaa are no exceptions.
Even with the total number of spectators of home games, 5,167 in Espoo and 1,972 in Vantaa, the hall should not be full. When 500 spectators were allowed to take in per block, two safe blocks were built in Vantaa.
“With those limitations, we would have been able to live just fine. Another thing is that people did not dare to come to the halls in the same way as before, ”Sointu says.
Relaxing the restrictions even to the fall level would help many clubs. According to the chord, it would save the spring season.
“With those limitations, we would have been able to live just fine.”
Responsibility has directed the activities of Mestis throughout the season. The mask compulsion came to the stands as the first set, the safety gaps remained in the loose funnels and no infections or even exposures were found.
It also doesn’t help when clubs are pulled under the rug by strict and proactive restrictions.
“I fully sign. The clubs have taken care of things very responsibly and the association has been actively guiding. Until then, it can be said that the clubs and the union have worked very well, ”says Manninen.
“Yes, the similar feelings here are that there is little exaggeration of emergency protection. There are many other places where people are very much close together in size, and then there have been exposures and infections. There has really been no such thing in Mestis matches, ”Sointu adds.