Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu has announced that the 2013 Euroleague Final Four will be held at the O2 Arena in London, England at a press conference in Istanbul, earlier today.
It will be the first time that the Euroleague Final Four has come to England and since the London Towers days of 2001 never has it even stepped foot in England where basketball is considered a ‘minority sport’.
No doubt though, this is huge news for the country with London 2012 coming up and with basketball amongst the hottest selling tickets at the Games, the Euroleague thought that the time was right to make their move.
“We are trying to help the growth of basketball in the UK and I think this is one of the ways, not the only one but one of the ways that the Euroleague can make a contribution and I think it’s the right time to do that because we have in London an amazing building which is the O2 and a close co-operation with AEG from many years ago so I think its the right time to do that,” Mr. Bertomeu said.
No British Basketball League side has entered the Euroleague since 2001 and no team from Great Britain’s premier division has even entered Europe since Guildford Heat’s 0-10 performance in the ULEB Cup of 2007. In contrast though, Great Britain’s national side have made a name for themselves with good showings at the 2009 and 2011 Eurobasket tournaments plus competing at the upcoming Olympic Games in London. The market is definitely there for basketball in England and indeed Great Britain, something that Mr. Bertomeu is aware of.
“The British team is doing well and they will participate in the Olympics so all of this has to add value,” he said. “The success of the NBA in the regular games and the exhibition games proved that the interest is there, it has huge interest and is always sold out.”
The Euroleague CEO also announced that the 2014 Final Four might stay in London. A unprecedented move that shows that the Euroleague is serious about promoting their brand of basketball.
Before the announcement, it was rumoured that the newly built Zalgirio Arena in Kaunas, Lithuania would stage next year’s event with the Belgrade Arena in Serbia another name being thrown out.
Chris Mitchell from the BBC World Service contributed to this report.