In an article in the French newspaper L’Equipe, the possibility of a closed Euroleague has been evoked and reportedly is very close to happening.
On the 7th of July, the ULEB has its general reunion in Berlin where one of the points will be the qualification modus for the Euroleague. And according to sources close to the organization, the ULEB will qualify certain teams only on economic and structural criteria. Some teams will still enter the competition after sportive results. The number of teams in each category is not yet defined.
The goal of the Euroleague is to have a 10,000 seat arena minimum from the 2009-10 on. There will be exceptions for teams that have a minimum of 5,000 seats in their arena but fixed plans must be in place to build a new arena within a period of three years. If these changes are approved on July 7, it will be a revolution in the European sports scene as no other European competition grants fixed places for teams in the main competition.
Such a decision would result in lots of European powerhouses having to move to new arenas. It would mean the end of such traditional spaces as Tivoli in Ljubljana, Hale in Kaunas, and Pionir in Belgrade. Some cities already have new arenas. But with this decision, the construction process must be accelerated in the other locations in order to remain eligible for the top competition in European basketball.
The French teams are in shock, as these changes mean that France will lose one spot in the competition. Additionally, no team currently holds such an arena in France. Only ASVEL has a project for a 15,000 seat arena within the next few years. Jordi Bertomeu was in France on Monday and confirmed the qualification of Le Mans for the 2008-09 edition of the Euroleague. However, they are only present because of their first place finish in the regular season and not as a third year in a contract.