Maku, a loyal BallinEurope reader and the expert who made Tau Ceramica predictions for us sent the following email:
Let’s start with a bit of legal background: The Spanish Sport Act recognises the possibility that an association of clubs constitutes itself a Professional League. This legal figure allows the Association of Clubs of Basketball (ACB) to organise their competition with a certain autonomy apart from the FEB (Spanish Federation) thanks to an agreement between both entities, in which it’s also stated how the promotion and relegation system between their respective competitions works. In order to join the ACB League, a club must not only win their spot in the LEB League (2nd division, organized by FEB), but also fulfil some predetermined economic requisites such as a 5,000-seat arena, paying a fee to ACB, and transforming the club into a Joint-Stock Company.
But let me get back to 1990. Club Obradoiro from Santiago de Compostela and CB Murcia had to struggle for a place in ACB, granted to the winner of a play-out series. Meanwhile the loser got relegated to “Primera B” (the second division, at the time). Although Murcia won on court, Obradoiro claimed that one of their rival’s players, Esteban Perez, who was Argentinian, was playing with the license of a Spanish player. At the time, only one foreign player was allowed, and later in 1994, the player was condemned for fraud of public documents.
Even after the fraud wasproved, the Federation denied granting Obradoiro said spot, so the Club went through the long (and slow!) Spanish judicial system, reaching the Supreme Court, who, 17 years afterward!!!, forced the ACB to readmit Obradoiro for next season, within the same financial conditions required for 1990. This is quite controversial because the ACB had not been part of the process at any time, as it all went against Murcia and the Spanish Federation who was responsible for issuing the player license.
So what happened next? The agreement between ACB and FEB, established that every year, two teams would be relegated from ACB, and two others would be promoted from LEB. As ACB blamed FEB for being responsible in issuing the license, in order to protect the teams that are already part of ACB, the solution would have been to take one of the teams out of the Federative League to give its spot… BUT! (Yes, there’s always a “but.”) The judgement came out once that this present season had started, and moreover when FEB had changed the system to reach ACB (a first-place finish at the end of the regular season gets one spot, and the other is given by a playoff and final four between those placing 2nd to 9th), the system could not be changed in the middle of a running competition.
What’s the solution, then? ACB and FEB, with the intervention of Consejo Superior de Deportes (Spain’s highest administration body on sport), resolved the following in the negotiation of their last collective agreement, apart from the fact that ACB has shown it in its interest to reduce the number of teams to 16.
So, in case Obradoiro fulfils the requisites to integrate ACB for the 2008-09 season, there could be 19 clubs for one season! This would contract to 18 the following season. If Obradoiro decides to join ACB a season later, only one team would be promoted from LEB in addition to the Galicians.
Moreover, at same meeting, the ACB announced and agreed to use the right to reduce its competition to 16 teams at its own discretion (so, the intention).
Is this the only issue arising in Spain? Of course not! The economic crisis affects several construction companies sponsoring various teams.
In Murcia (yet again the same club that caused all trouble with Obradoiro!), main sponsor Polaris World has publicly announced its intention to sell its shares. In the case that somebody buys the majority of shares, the team could be moved to another city. A public platform called “cbmurcianosevende” (CB Murcia is not for sale) wants to implicate the public institutions, in order to keep the team in the city.
Other teams to look at carefully in the future are MMT Estudiantes, with its serious inner power struggle in which the president is in confrontation with some of the board of directors and public declarations announcing a cessation of payments, and CB Girona, who carries a 3,000,000-euro debt, is two months behind in paying salaries, and has an elapsing contract with main sponsor construction firm Akasvayu.
We’ll keep an eye on them.