The Global Champions League (GCL) will now run with FEI backing as the two organisations have signed an agreement after a lengthy legal battle.
The signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the GCL and the FEI means the end of “uncertainty” for riders, officials and organisers.
In a joint statement, GCL co-founders Jan Tops and Frank McCourt said: “We are pleased to have reached consensus with the FEI and appreciate the genuine efforts that have been made to achieve this agreement and resolve outstanding issues.
“We thank everyone involved for their efforts in reaching this outcome.
“We are very much looking forward to working with the FEI and to building a healthy, strong and sustainable future for our sport and all its stakeholders in the modern sports landscape.”
The legal battle between the GCL and the FEI had been running since June 2015, when the GCL filed a complaint with the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA), accusing the FEI of breaching EU competition law by using its rules to prevent riders and horses from competing in events not approved by the FEI by imposing a so-called “exclusivity clause”.
As a result of the MOU, which replaces a previous agreement between the FEI and the Global Champions Tour, the GCL’s complaint to the BCA has been formally withdrawn.
Two FEI officials who were barred for six months for officiating at GCL events (news, 28 April 2016) have also formally withdrawn their complaints to the BCA.
“We are very happy that this long-running saga has finally been resolved to the satisfaction of both sides and that the Global Champions League is now officially an FEI-approved series”, FEI President Ingmar De Vos said.
“The new MOU also now means an end to the legal issues between us, which has to be good for the future of the sport.
“The FEI was always of the belief that there was room for coexistence between the current FEI series and the GCL and, with the signing of the MOU, now we can turn the page and look to the future. It’s a great step forward and ends a period of uncertainty for athletes, organisers and FEI officials.”
The MOU includes FEI approval of the GCL rules, which now comply with FEI rules.
To read further analysis of the implications of this outcome, pick up a copy of Horse & Hound magazine, on sale 2 February.