ROME, Italy – Seven leading European national federations met in Rome on Thursday to discuss the current remodeling of the European club competitions. Under the leadership of FIBA President Horacio Muratore, FIBA Vice-President and FIBA Europe President Turgay Demirel and FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, the basketball governing bodies of France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Russia, Spain and Turkey took note of the new European competitions announced recently by Euroleague Basketball.
The participants unanimously decided to continue the ongoing work on the Basketball Champions League project, making the necessary modifications to take into consideration the desired sporting principles and openness of a top level club competition system in order to launch the competition as planned for the 2016-17 season.
The Presidents of the attending National Federations and FIBA are committed to grow the sport of basketball in Europe and will now reach out to all clubs and leagues that are interested in participating in the remodelled competition system, with the objective of having the format and all conditions finalised in a united way early 2016.
The two biggest names among the clubs considering the possibility of joining the new competition are Unicaja Malaga and Panathinaikos Athens. While Unicaja was left out of the list of 11 license holders who were guaranteed spot in Euroleague for the next 10 years, the Greek giants were on the list but are still undecided.
Patrick Baumann, FIBA Secretary General, denied recent rumours that the clubs who choose Euroleague instead of Basketball Champions League could be expelled from the national leagues.
“The new Euroleague? We can not be slaves of a small group of clubs even if thet are respected. If you close the door for 10 years with the licenses, the league will not grow. I read about sanctions, fines and disqualifications for the clubs who won’t choose our competition. But that won’t happen. We don’t want war. We want to create a mutual project but everything needs time”, said Baumann.
Unicaja who have qualified for Euroleague Top 16 following their win against Maccabi, were obviously disappointed of not getting a guaranteed spot in the new Euroleague. Coach Joan Plaza has publicly expressed his disagreement with the new competition format.
Khimki head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis was also critical of the new Euroleague format. “It makes more sense for us to lose remaining group games and be relegated to Eurocup so we could qualify to Euroleague by winning it rather than do well in Euroleague”, Kurtinaitis pointed to the flaws of the new system, according to him.
Meanwhile, six-time Euroleague champions Panathinaikos are still weighing their options and have not signed the agreement that would put them among 11 license holders. However, the Greens are leaning towards FIBA’s tournament.
The next meeting between FIBA and national federations will be held on December 2015. More details regarding Basketball Champions League are expected to be released.
Sources: FIBA, TalkBasket.net