GCT supremos Jan Tops and Frank McCourt want to create the Global Champions League (GCL) in which patrons “own” teams, as in polo or Formula 1, adding a further £12 million to the annual GCT prize pot.
But the FEI rejected the series, which poses a threat to the established FEI Nations Cup. In July, the Belgian Competition Authority ruled in favour of GCL.
Now the FEI is asking the same court to over-turn its decision.
GCL team “owners” would invest £2 million apiece and “buy and sell” riders from rival squads. British rider and world number one Scott Brash was among the first to state his interest.
The GCL accuses the FEI of stifling the development of jumping and abusing its position as a regulatory body to protect its commercial interests.
GCT has not challenged the FEI’s GCL rejection directly, but instead asked the court to consider the FEI’s “unsanctioned events” rule which has applied since 2013. This would prevent GCL participants from competing in regular FEI competitions for six months.
A FEI spokesman said: “The FEI cannot comment on the specifics of a pending legal dispute, but the rationale explaining the unsanctioned event rule clearly outlines the potential horse welfare issues that could occur at events that are not subject to FEI regulations.
“Other international federations have similar provisions and much tougher sanctions for breaches.”
The FEI said GCL had not submitted detailed rules for its series and had failed to respond to an invitation to do so.
Interestingly, current GCT rules (detailed in full below), which are in accordance with FEI rules, forbid riders from entering two five-star shows during the same weekend. This prevents someone jumping for his country in a FEI Nations Cup, which are usually staged on Fridays, and riding at a GCT on the Saturday and Sunday.
GCT rules on entries: In accordance with the current FEI rules on entries, no competitor may enter more than one event on the same weekend without the agreement of both OCs. The penalty for contravening this rule is disqualification from the event. This does not apply to Athletes on the definite entry list who have been selected to replace another Athlete at a CSIO on the same week end (Jumping rules Art. 251.14). OCs of GCT events will permit Athletes who withdraw following the deadline date for the definite entries from a GCT event to participate at a CSI4* or lower event on the same dates but will not allow participation of such Athletes in another CSI 5* on the same dates.