GSHC fights political critics

Ice hockey in Geneva, not always smooth sailing

Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) Geneva-Servette Hockey Club (GSHC) has snapped back at unnamed critics who, say the club owners, have been making damaging and incorrect innuendos that the GSHC is not transparent about its finances and that recent changes have caused problems with the team.

The city and canton have been slow to move on projects agreed to in 2010 to renovate the existing Vernets ice rink, before building a new arena for 2015, says the club.

20 minutes 17 February quoted Socialist Rémy Pagani, head of Geneva’s buildings and construction department, as saying that “At the moment the club’s project, which is supported by the city for a cost of CHF14 million, is stuck in the finance commission because the club has not yet presented its accounts.”

Simon Brandt, a centre-right Geneva politician, a week earlier accused Pagani of making empty promises to the club, saying it had nothing to worry about because Geneva would support it, even though the project doesn’t appear in the budget.

A meeting 8 March between the club, the city and the canton must see these projects move ahead, GSHC says, in order for its finances to become healthier: the club needs more VIP seats to be able to pull in additional revenues from these.

Chris McSorley and Hugh Quennec, the two Geneva-Servette owners, sent out to journalists a lengthy press release 17 February stating their position: the club’s accounts have been completely open to Geneva auditors, they insist, the Foundation’s finances are managed separately from the club’s and no players have been paid out of the foundation’s money, responding to accusations that have been made, mainly in Geneva’s political arena.

The complete release, in French, is below.

It shines a light on the murky side of Geneva politics as much as on the club’s business. McSorley told GenevaLunch in October that while relations with the city and canton are good, the process of getting and keeping essential financial support is not always easy. This becomes clear in Thursday’s statement, where McSorley and Quennec note that:

  • work agreed foreseen in June 2010 agreements with Geneva have not been carried out. As a result, the club’s CHF3 million deficit has not diminished, despite strong demand for VIP seats.
  • Work planned for 2011, including work not done in 2010: GSHC has received no confirmation about when work will begin.
  • The new arena for 2015: the club is still waiting, despite the June 2010 agreement that the Vernet site will be used, for the credits to be approved and deposited to carry out the studies necessary to move the project ahead.

GSHC press release, 17 February 2011