In nine months time, the Euroleague format will be altered in a slicker new competition calendar that will put the league in a prestigious category for years to come.
The current 24-team format will be confined to the dustbin, along with the Top 16, which normally runs from December until April and in its place will be 16 teams who play in a round robin for 30 rounds, culminating in the top eight teams playing in a best-of-five playoff series with the winners progressing to the Final Four.
The new Eurocup, meanwhile, will feature 24 teams – 21 with access through domestic leagues and three wild card invitations – and will follow an almost identical format currently employed in the Euroleague. A ten-round regular season will be followed by a 14-round Top 16, two-game quarter-final and semi-final home-and-away series, leading up to the championship game.
Barcelona, Real Madrid, Laboral Kutxa, CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce, Anadolu Efes, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, EA7 Milano, Zalgiris, Panathinaikos and Olympiacos are already guaranteed spots in next season’s competition as they hold A-Licences from the Euroleague. Also included will be the previous season’s Eurocup winners, three domestic league victors and the final slot will be determined in an additional qualifying tournament, which makes its return after a season-long absence.
The new format makes the Euroleague more exclusive, with more opportunities for rivalries that you will only get to see in this very competition, which will give the Euroleague even more of an excitement factor.
“The new Euroleague will allow teams to set up plans with long-term goals,” EA7 Milano President Livio Pivoli said. “The added benefit will be the chance to play every year against all the best European teams. So all the fans can watch live our league’s greatest stars and teams can develop healthy rivalries during the course of the season.
“This is great for our sport, the new Euroleague will look more and more like a top level competition both on and off the court. Stability will give us the opportunity to develop strategies to promote our product in the best possible way. The clubs are more than ready to handle their own product and launch the Euroleague into a new era.”
An era that, thanks to IMG will last a guaranteed ten years that will be worth an estimated $387million [€356million] at an annual rate of $38.7million [€35.6million], snubbing the original plan organised by the governing body FIBA, who wanted a 16-team tournament, naming it the “Basketball Champions League”, where teams got €30 million per year.
“We are talking about an historic moment for European basketball,” President of Laboral Kutxa, Josean Querejeta said. “The important point is that the big European clubs have decided our own future and we have signed a very valuable deal with IMG.
“This agreement will allow our teams to have more resources and above all – and this is very important – a lot of money will be used to promote the new league, a league that will be able to assure fans from all cities that they can see in person the best teams on the continent every year.”
“It is a great achievement as now there is a stable foundation set out for the next ten years,” Zalgiris general manager Paulius Motiejunas added. “It is a big step forward and the partnership with IMG will help the Euroleague grow. The new format is very attractive for the clubs and for the fans.
“Now we have the chance to meet all the best Euroleague teams at our arenas. Zalgiris Kaunas is very happy to be among those teams. It shows our work and commitment was done in the right ways and we are excited to be a part of this historical development.”
And, starting next season, the development will be in full swing.
Quotes from Eurohoops.