Euroleague Basketball gets future-ready



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Euroleague Basketball Image: Euroleague Basketball

Euroleague Basketball President and Chief Executive Jodi Bertomeu has stated that canceling the 2019-20 seasons of its two club competitions – Euro League and Euro Cup – has been the most difficult decision which the organization has had to make in its 20-year history.

The EuroLeague is the top-tier European professional basketball club competition organized by Euroleague Basketball since the year 2000.

Euroleague Basketball made the announcement recently following a remote meeting of the Euroleague Commercial Assets Shareholders Executive Board, which gathered for the fourth time since the season was suspended on March 12 due to the global health crisis triggered by coronavirus outbreak.

The Executive Board revealed that they tried to work out every possible option and then decided to cancel the sporting showpieces citing seven key reasons – health and safety of athletes, fans, staff and stakeholders, and issues relating to sporting integrity – due to the varied nature of the outbreak across its European markets.

The Executive Board has decided not to award titles for the 2019-20 Euro League and Euro Cup seasons. The 2020-21 Euro League and Euro Cup seasons will start on October 1 and September 30, respectively, as previously agreed.

The 2020-21 Euro League season will comprise the same 18 teams which contested this campaign. The 2020-21 Euro Cup season will reserve guaranteed spots for the eight teams that qualified for the 2019-20 quarter-finals, namely – AS Monaco, Partizan NIS Belgrade, Promitheas Patras, Segafredo Virtus Bologna, Tofas Bursa, Umana Reyer Venezia, Unicaja Malaga and UNICS Kazan. The remaining 16 spots will be awarded to teams qualifying through their domestic leagues’ final standings.

Talking to mediapersons, Bertomeu said that while Euroleague is still working on figuring out the financial impact of canceling the season, he admitted it will be “significant”.

Bertomeu added, “Of course, in our conversation with our partners, we have to include and we have to consider that the current season was not normal, so we cannot expect them to commit to what was signed and expected at the beginning of the season.”

“Part of our relationship with our partners is to see how we can help each other, as we are in trouble, they are in trouble. That is the real meaning of partnership – trying to help each other and keep building something that we started with many of our partners years ago,” he further noted.

“We will have different conversations with our media partners and our corporate partners and we will try to see how we can compensate them, but at the same time trying to keep part of the fee in order to guarantee what our clubs are expecting to receive. But also our clubs understand this season will be a different one regarding the incomes they will receive from the league. I think everybody is aware that this is a difficult season,” Bertomeu observed.

The Euroleague Basketball boss believes the current crisis will serve as an opportunity to bring in reforms to make the organization future-ready.

He added, “You mention the fact that this current crisis situation or problems can help us or can convince us we have to speed up our process for the future. Definitely this is one of the things we have learned from this crisis. We believe that it is clear that the gap between our clubs and the domestic leagues is bigger and bigger and at a certain point it really is difficult to combine both. We are seeing this on a daily basis.”

“I think that not only because we now believe that it is time to proceed with our project, it is because if we see the environment of this product, it is absolutely necessary to present something new,” Bertomeu observed.

Bertomeu said the International Management Group (IMG) has been included in talks over Euroleague’s decision, adding the agency is on the same page with the verdict. New York-headquartered global sports and media business IMG is a key partner of Euroleague Basketball, with the two entities currently engaged in a 10-season joint venture, running from 2016-17 to 2025-26, with the option of being extended for a further 10 seasons until 2035-36.

Bertomeu stated, “As you can imagine we are in permanent contact with IMG, as together we are running the most important piece of the competition. So, in these conversations, we shared the same concerns and ideas and we are trying to overcome all these problems together.”

“As a consequence of this conversation we will have another one for the next season, and there is no doubt the commitment for both sides to work together has never been under question. So, the only thing we will have to do is adjust our projections to what we believe is realistic, after the right assessment of the impact, when we have data that will allow us to do so. But there are no doubts in terms of commitment on the IMG side regarding the EuroLeague project,” he further stated.

Talking about reports regarding the future of EuroLeague’s title sponsorship deal with Turkish Airlines, the EuroLeague basketball chief added, “I do not expect any change in our naming rights. We have been enjoying a very fruitful relationship with Turkish Airlines in the last 10 years. We don’t see, we don’t feel anything that will change our view on that for the future. I know that conversations about Gazprom have been published in some media outlets. Honestly, I never had such conversations, so I don’t know where the source comes from. We are extremely happy with Turkish Airlines.”

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