Uniform courts for Handball Bundesliga in new TV cycle
All teams in Germany's top-tier DKB Handball Bundesliga are to play on blue courts next season, when the league's new domestic television deals with pay-television's Sky and public-service channels ARD and ZDF kick in.
The decision was taken at the Handball Bundesliga's annual general meeting, where it was also agreed to cut the number of teams in the second-tier 2. Handball Bundesliga from 20 to 18.
Frank Bohmann, the managing director of Handball Bundesliga, said: "All decisions were focused on the development of handball."
On the requirement for uniform blue courts across the league, Bohmann said: "The spectator should immediately realise that he sees a game of the DKB Handball Bundesliga."
He added that while it was "not a requirement" of Sky, ARD or ZDF, "all welcome the decision as they are convinced of the positive effects of a professional image.. The viewer will benefit from a single picture and will not have to get used to a new set-up every time."
Bohmann said the league has acquired a set of drop-in courts that can be deployed by clubs promoted into the top-flight for their first season.
On the decision to reduce the second-tier, Bohmann said: "The intermixing of the second division was simply too big with three promoted [to the top division] and four relegated [to the third-tier] per year. This meant seven new teams in the league each year. And by the high number of relegations, many clubs were in danger of relegation until shortly before the end of the season.
"We are convinced that the reduction will contribute to economic continuity in the league. In addition, due to the high number of games, several double-game weeks were necessary, which are very unpopular with the clubs."
The new Handball Bundesliga rights deal covers the top league, second division, DHB Pokal, including the Final Four, the Supercup and the All Star Game.
The majority of live matches will be shown on Sky, while ARD will televise up to 12 Bundesliga games each season, including the DHB Cup Final, free to air. ZDF, along with Sky and ARD, will show highlights.