Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu arrived in Belgrade on Friday to attend the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 game between Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade and Panathinaikos Athens at Kombank Arena. Jordi Bertomeu answered questions about next season’s Euroleague.

What is Euroleague’s definitive position when it comes to Euroleague filling up remaining spots for next season?

“With the new format, we are not working thinking on wild cards. We are thinking on a structure based on the clubs that over the years have proven that they are top teams in Europe, and in addition, to representatives of the strongest leagues in Europe. With this group we will make up a 16-team competition. Basically, we identify the four strongest leagues in Europe, as a consequence of the good job they have been doing in the last years. I think it is clear the VTB United League of the north, the German League, the Spanish League, the Adriatic League are today strongest leagues in Europe. So the combination of these two elements, together with the champion of Eurocup as always, will be the composition of the Euroleague. We do not envision wild cards in the future. I think that when we will have an opportunity to enlarge the competition, then we will see. In the next years, we have this structure in our mind.”

What is Euroleague Basketball’s offer to the Adriatic League?

“The offer, a vision more than the offer, is that these four leagues deserve one spot in Euroleague regular season, and in addition they deserve at least three spots in the Eurocup. This is the same proposal for all of them. I think that the first requirements is sports ranking, and when the clubs are defined according with rankings, then we will go through other requirements . And it’s a complex system, which includes facilities, financial situation of the clubs and others. But I don’t see major problems in the future, but always depending on double-checking those requirements. At this moment, it’s not a point to discuss requirements, it’s a point is to discuss the structure, and the structure is the one I mentioned.”

What are the requirements?

“The criteria is what has to be fulfilled by all the clubs. For the Eurocup champion, and all the clubs, and also for the current A-license clubs. So all clubs go through the same procedure. Especially since we established a year ago the Financial Fair Play regulations. There is no exception for that. So, there is not any specific concern regarding your question in this region. Then we will see at the end of the season when we will proceed according to our bylaws.”

Euroleague gave up on qualifying rounds?

“We presented a concept of qualifying rounds, but from the very beginning we understood it is not interesting for the clubs because these qualifying rounds have to be played at the end of September, when the clubs are just starting their activities, many players coming from national teams, so it is very short period to prepare these very important qualifying rounds. And we are forcing the clubs to have some investments that probably will not be necessary if they don’t qualify. So we are not in favor of this concept, and we changed after our last conversation with the clubs and the domestic leagues, and we decided to allocate this spot directly to one national league, which for other leagues probably are not happy, but I think that is the best solution for the clubs, which in the end is more important for us. The remaining clubs will be selected among the ones we invite to join us from other countries, from Turkey, Lithuania, Italy, Greece, Poland, from other countries, the ones with probably more Eurocup appearances or Euroleague appearance in the last years. With 12 teams coming from four leagues that I mentioned, plus other teams that will be invited, we will form this group of 24 clubs.”

Are the leagues also offered a 10-year cooperation, like clubs or is it a shorter period?

“The agreement with the leagues is to establish this structure for the next three seasons, and then we will see in the future how will be the structure after this three-year period.It is too early to say that. We know, and we offer four spots. One for the Euroleague and minimum three for Eurocup. Minimum means that at least three are guaranteed. What will happen with four, we will see.”

Are you concerned FIBA takes over primacy over Euroleague?

“I think what makes the difference is the quality of the teams. Today there is no doubt that quality is in the Euroleague, as has been the case in last 15 years. We have been running these two competitions for already 16 seasons. And now, we have nothing against FIBA wanting to organize club competition, which has been the case for last 15 or 16 years. So it is nothing new that FIBA is organizing a club competition, and we understand it is part of their job. But if we talk about quality of the competition, there is no doubt that Euroleague and Eurocup have been the top competitions in the last 16 years, and it will be the case in the next years.”

FIBA is not satisfied with Euroleague Basketball organizing Eurocup and they want to take Eurocup from ULEB? Is there a possibility for a talk between FIBA and ULEB in the end?

“It is not our concern how much the other people or other institutions are happy or not. Our concern is to be focused on developing our project and to deliver quality, as we proved we have done in the last 15 years. We have nothing against FIBA wanting to organize a club competition. We welcome them, because it is important that they care about clubs, probably something that they didn’t in the last 15 years, so it is good to have them on board, and we will welcome cooperation with FIBA as we did for many, many years. The point now is that, to cooperate with someone, you need to sit down and to have an opportunity to discuss. Unfortunately, we did not receive any positive answer from FIBA despite the fact that we invited them at least twice to sit down and discuss many things that need to be discussed for the good of basketball. So far they rejected us, but I am confident in the future we will have opportunity to sit down and to establish the way to work together, as has been the case for years.”