England’s declining club performances in the Euro Hockey League over the past few years have come home to roost, with the country losing one place in the top-level club competition.
Spain are the beneficiaries with the performances of Real Club de Polo and Club de Campo, reaching the KO8 in 2014 good enough to increase their quota of entrants to three.
England’s two representatives for 2014-15 will be champions Beeston and runners-up East Grinstead.
The top four countries based on recent performances – Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Spain – all receive three places. Countries ranked five to eight – England, Poland, Russia and France – have two. Ireland and Italy return to the top-12 at the expense of Wales and Belarus. They join Ireland, Austria and Italy with one side.
The format of the competition has changed with the top-12 sides now receiving a bye into the KO16 stage. The games from the last 16 through to the final will again be held over an extended Easter schedule, with the final on April 6, Easter Monday 2015. The EHL is, however, expected to return to a separate final four weekend next time around
The first two clubs from the top-four nations and the first club from nations ranked 5-8 will have the bye. This includes Beeston from England. East Grinstead will however face a trip to round one in Spain.
The tournament also becomes a more expensive proposition from now on with the EHF grant to clubs abolished.
Round one – Barcelona October 10-12, Pau Negre Stadium, Montjuich – will consist of four groups of three clubs each with the top side going through from each group . With one Dutch, Belgian, German, Spanish and English club in there – this could be a tough proposition.
Belgium’s Daring and Ireland’s Monkstown will be the new faces for the 2014-15 EHL.
President of the European Hockey Federation (EHF) Marijke Fleuren said: “We have had to make some tough decisions in order to ensure the future of this prized event. We know that EHL qualification can open the door to new talented players and potential sponsors, so we ask now that the clubs take ownership of the cost of participation in EHL.”