ANGER, Austria – The Austrian league finalized its structure for the 2009-2010 season and added Croatian champion Medvescak Zagreb as a new league team.
“We’re happy to welcome Zagreb in our league,” League Chairman Karl Nedwed said. “As the financial crisis hit our league, we introduced cost-reducing measures.”
Medvescak Zagreb replaces Innsbruck, which will play in the second-tier league due to financial reasons. The Croats are the fourth foreign team to join the Austrian league after Slovenian entries Acroni Jesenice and Olimpija Ljubljana, and Alba Volan Szekesfehervar from Hungary.
Medvescak is the record title-holder in Croatia with 12 Croatian championships and three Yugoslavian championships. In absence of Acroni and Olimpija, Medvescak Zagreb won the regular-season of the Slovenian league but lost to Olimpija, 2-1, in the semi-final.
The Croats reportedly already signed Slovenian national team goalie Robert Kristan, who most recently played for Mora IK, a second-tier Swedish team.
The Austrian season begins September 10, when the 54-game regular season kicks off. The final series will conclude on April 8.
Restrictions were made on team rosters to reduce the costs. A club is only allowed to have 22 players on its roster for the season – domestic players aged 22 and under are not included in the quota. After signing 22 players, only three transactions will be allowed.
Nedwed explained that the clubs didn’t need more players and can save costs with the new rule. “Now, fans can count that team rosters will only change in case of injuries or complete mispurchase,” Nedwed said.