Svein Arne Hansen says the Super League should revert to featuring eight teams rather than the current 12
European Athletics president Svein Arne Hansen has discussed a restructuring of the European Team Championships with the aim of creating a “shorter, more exciting, easier-to-follow programme”.
The Norwegian, who in April became the fifth president of the most powerful region in world athletics, would like to see the number of teams involved at the top level – the Super League – reduced from 12 to eight.
“Cheboksary 2015 was an excellent championships with a lot of great performances but for me it is clear that the Super League should go back to eight teams like the old European Cup from the current 12 teams,” said Hansen.
“The 12-team format with two heats is just not as engaging for the fans. If we could change back, which I will ask our event and competition commission to look at, I think it will make for a shorter, more exciting, easier-to-follow programme.”
The European Cup, which ran from 1965, was replaced by the European Team Championships in 2009.
The president also explained how he would like to see further showcasing of field events in the team competition.
“In my opinion, we should also look at ways of shortening the programme further and showcasing the field events a little more. We could have the likes of the shot put competition in the city centre and the hammer and discus in the stadium on the Friday.
“We have got a good event for television with the European Team Championships, with men’s and women’s combined teams and promotion and relegation battles, but I think with some restructuring it could be much better.”
He added: “I want fresh thinking – to come up with innovative ideas to improve the championships. How about the First League reduced to eight teams as well? Who knows?
“We could have the top two leagues hosted in the same stadium over four sessions – First League in the morning and Super League in the afternoon. That would really accentuate the promotion and relegation battle between the two leagues and be a fantastic event for the athletes, fans and media. It would also ensure we have the highest levels of quality for the First League in terms of television production, event presentation, results and timing.”
Hansen also recently spoke with AW about his ideas for holding European-only events at one-day meetings.
He is keen to improve the standards of European middle and long-distance running and believes one way of doing that is via changes to invitational grand prix events.
The next European Team Championships is to be held in 2017, with no event taking place in the Olympic year.