EuroLeague Basketball
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

Eduard J. Scott, Chief Operations Officer of EuroLeague Basketball, said the conversations between EuroLeague clubs and FIBA need to resume.

In an exclusive interview with TalkBasket.net, Mr Scott also talked about the level of competitiveness in the EuroLeague, Olympiacos case and more.

Following the first two rounds of the new EuroLeague season and with 18 teams ready to fight for a place in the postseason, do you think the league can be more competitive than ever before this year?

“In our opinion the competitive level of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague makes a step forward every season, but it is undeniable that one decision by our clubs has been fundamental to raise the competitiveness.

In 2016-17, the European League format was adopted. All basketball fans confirm the enormous repercussions that this decision had in our competition, with competitiveness being one of the aspects most positively impacted.

The decision was taken based on our fans and their expectations and most importantly their response could not have been more positive.

The 2019-20 season promises a top competitive level, as looking at all the teams rosters there has never been a more interesting summer with so many important signings from other leagues which will once again bring the best competition possible to all our fans.”
 
For the first time ever, a European club (Olympiacos) will compete only in the EuroLeague and will not play in the domestic competitions. Other EuroLeague teams (like Baskonia) have also examined the possibility of playing in only one competition in the near future. In your opinion, could this be considered the first step towards a closed league, where the top European clubs will play only in the EuroLeague?

“The specific and exceptional case of Olympiacos Piraeus is something that all fans are aware of and in which Euroleague Basketball and clubs outside Greece have no responsibility whatsoever.

It is a clear example of an issue at the Domestic League level which is separate from the Euroleague Basketball competitions.

We have clearly stated over the years that Domestic Leagues are very important for the basketball panorama and it is not currently the intention of Euroleague Basketball to take any decision that forces teams to no longer participate in their domestic leagues.”
 
The President and CEO of the EuroLeague, Mr Jordi Bertomeu, recently talked about a format with 18 teams and 16 long-term licenses. Is this a long-term plan or it can happen in the next, let’s say, three or four years?

“Back in summer 2014 the pyramid model that exists historically in Europe at the domestic level was presented as a vision to be implemented at the European level, with the EuroLeague connected to the EuroCup, and the EuroCup connected to the domestic leagues.

This option would offer a clear path for all clubs from all domestic leagues by which to access and potentially remain in the EuroLeague if they have solid and ambitious business operations as well as basketball operations.

We merely continue to work in that direction, following the decisions taken by the ECA Shareholders Meeting (the clubs and domestic leagues that own Euroleague Basketball), modifying the access criteria.

This has resulted in increasing the access from the EuroCup as well as providing a solution for the clubs coming from the EuroCup, who, until now, despite having a good performance in the EuroLeague, had no mechanism to continue to participate the following season.

It is hard to say if this model will be implemented in the next three or four years, however the clubs are certainly heading that way. This is in parallel with the strategic goals to increase the presence from markets including the United Kingdom, Germany, France or Italy.”
 
There has been no progress in the conversation with FIBA over the past few months. Since the talks are expected to continue, do you believe the two sides can come closer to an agreement regarding the schedule, FIBA windows etc?

“The Euroleague Basketball clubs continue to work hard on their projects and their competitions, growing the sport of basketball in Europe.

Following the unfortunate tragedy that was Mr. Patrick Baumann’s death last October as well as the recent celebration of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, it is quite normal that we have not yet had an opportunity to discuss different projects with FIBA where we can work together.

As we share the common goal of developing basketball, it is important, as we have both made clear recently, that our clubs and FIBA need to resume conversations, and we are confident that there is space for collaboration and mutual support which can only be beneficial for the sport.”