In the last year there has been growing speculation about the possibility of the KHL expanding to London. The IIHF even ran an article talking about this possibility There has also been rumors that the Croatia KHL team may be interested in re-locating the team to London.
The idea of London having a KHL team has picked up steam because it makes so much logical sense. Hockey is arguably the fastest growing team sport in the world. In addition to the traditional hockey powers, non traditional hockey countries in Europe and Asia are advancing in the sport. This trend is only going to continue as Asia develops more homegrown stars and hosts the 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympics.
The sport has grown in the UK as well. The UK has a domestic hockey league that is moving in a positive direction but the level of play is far below the top European leagues. As for the status of the UK national hockey team, its in the IIHF designation “Division IB”. This is basically the third division in international hockey. The UK national team is similar in strength to Lithuania.
The UK team just missed promotion to the Division IA. Its at a step in the right direction but the UK team is still below countries like Japan, South Korea, Austria, Poland.
The UK team is well below other prominent Western European countries like France and Germany and nowhere close to the top countries like Russia, Canada, United States, Sweden, Finland.
This is all relevant because one of the benefits of having a KHL team would be to develop the top UK national team players The KHL offers a level of competition far beyond the UK domestic league and having a higher level professional team in their country gives a place for the most talented UK players to play against strong competition.
This will give the UK an advantage over some other big European countries that don’t have a team in a top professional league. As the UK players develop the stronger the UK national team will be. They will then be able to qualify for the higher levels of IIHF tournaments which will generate much more fan interest in UK hockey.
I feel without a doubt that hockey could become one of the core sports of the UK. Both for being a fan and participating. I don’t think this is really the case with American football. Theres a reason hockey is growing around the world. Its a high action physical sport with hardly any breaks.
But as long as the UK national team is more stuck in the bottom levels of international hockey its hard to really galvanize huge support and make the sport realize its full potential in the UK.
So the question is, does the UK want to get on a path toward the upper level of hockey. Does the UK want to compete with and surpass countries such as France and Germany. Does the UK want to firmly establish its presence in one of the worlds fastest growing games. Is the answer to these questions yes, or does the UK want to sit back and watch as more countries pass them by.
London having a KHL team is mutually beneficial. The UK gets into a top hockey league, grows the popularity of the sport, and puts the national team on a path to being competitive. The KHL in turn gets a team in a large wealthy English speaking market which will greatly grow the attention of the league.
Is there any downside? Is this all doable? Theres no real reason for this not to happen. The budget for a KHL team is nothing out of the ordinary. It could even be funded by one of the Russian billionaires that lives in the UK. Theres arenas in London that should be suitable.
The UK Ice Hockey Federation has not had a problem with this that I am aware of and aren’t trying to engage in protectionism. This is something that has largely prevented Sweden from having a KHL team. Basically Swedish hockey does not want a well funded KHL team signing their leagues best players so they have stood in the way of expansion. In the case of the UK though this is no real issue because the domestic league isn’t very strong.
So what is the real sticking point that could stop a London KHL team. Of course its Russophobia.
The Western elite, and especially UK and US, are waging an all out hybrid war on Russia. Massive anti Russian propaganda, economic warfare, even going so far as to ban crippled Russian athletes from the Olympics and to fix a Eurovison song contest so that Russia wouldn’t win.
The Western elite is completely unwilling to present Russia in a truthful or positive way. They want to foster hatred of Russia and use that fabricated hate of Russia to sell their proxy wars, massive defense spending, and energy imperialism
The Russophobia industry is funded and controlled by a small group of rich globalists like George Soros. Individuals that largely control the US and UK establishment.
They will do anything possible to prevent a KHL team in the West. Why do you think that is? A KHL team in London would help to dissipate the many misconceptions Westerners have about Russia. When the London team plays games in the Russian cities the people would see that Russia is a normal friendly country and these cities that Westerners imagine as a hell hole are actually really nice.
In a nutshell, something that gives insight into the real Russia is not allowed in the West.
If London ends up having a KHL team frankly I would be shocked. I just don’t think it will happen. The UK bureaucracy will not allow it. They will muddy the waters at every turn. They will find ways to prevent the team from using an established arena. They will invent problems with the owners and funding. They will even label it a Putin Trojan horse.
This article is mainly targeted to sports fans in the UK. If you want a KHL team and to get a strong presence in world hockey you are going to have to stand up to your government. This is really the only way you will have a KHL team. I hope it happens but it will not be easy.