After three days of intense negotiations between Zalgiris and Andrey Shirokov, General Director of VTB United League, it was again confirmed that Lithuanian champions will not participate in the tournament next season.
The main reason behind the decision, according to Zalgiris GM Paulius Motiejunas, was the Euroleague format changes. Starting from next season the teams that will fail to qualify for Euroleague Top 16 will continue playing in Eurocup.
As a result Zalgiris is assured of enough competitive games even the club is unable to qualify for the Top 16.
In addition to that, Zalgiris will also be playing more games in Lithuanian league. Last season both Rytas and Zalgiris played only one round and only away games – just 12 games in regular season. The number will be doubled next season as Zalgiris will play two full rounds in LKL regular season.
Zalgiris played a total of 70 games last season (24 games in Euroleague, 20 in LKL and 26 in VTB United League). The club’s priority is LKL and Euroleague and after failing to agree on acceptable VTB United League schedule, it was decided to participate in just two tournaments.
Zalgiris is arguably the biggest name alongside CSKA Moscow in VTB United League and a loss of Zalgiris wasn’t welcomed by the league’s management.
Andrey Shirokov commented on the negotiations with Zalgiris stating that the club is afraid of losing by 50 points against the of CSKA Moscow and Khimki and therefore left the league.
However, both parties are open to working together in the future. Paulius Motiejunas stressed that Zalgiris is out of VTB United League just for the 2013-2014 season and a return in future is possible.
The future of other Lithuanian clubs Lietuvos Rytas and Neptunas seems to be more certain. Though the talks between the clubs and the league are still taking place.