Euroleague season 2008-2009 has been over for more than a month already, but who will qualify for next year’s edition of the major competition in European basketball remains unclear. The A/B/C Licensing system has been extensively discussed here at BallinEurope.com, and it looks as though Euroleague Basketball will soon come to a final decision.
Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu is currently displaying all his negotiation and lobbying charms in order to get the teams and leagues at one table in order to finalize the qualification system for the Euroleague. It looks like the system with A/B/C licenses as has been proposed will end up as part of a compromise solution before month’s end. It’s time to clarify the situation, as most European domestic leagues have come to an end, with GMs and executives wanting to know in which competition they will play next season.
According to the proposed model, besides the already predefined A License teams, the fate of the B-Licenses is still undetermined. And this is not only the case because of continuing playoffs in Germany, Belgium and France.
One of the main points is that, with the integration of an eight-team qualification round, Euroleague candidates next season will increase from 24 to 30. And not only the number of teams increases, the number of participating countries grows, too. With this new “dynamic system,” as it is called by the Euroleague, up to 18 national champions can play the competition. But what happens if these national champions (or other B License candidates) cannot fulfill Euroleague infrastructure rules, particularly the 5000-seat arena? We checked with the Euroleague Media Office, who gave us a pretty clear answer on this issue.
Teams from the Qualification Round need to fulfill the same criteria in terms of arena capacity as Euroleague Regular Season teams. If a team does not find an Arena suitable for its participation in the Qualification Round, the License will go to the next team in the Ranking.
When we talk about Rankings, it always means Ranking referring to country and not domestic Ranking. So the License will go to the next Country and not the next team in the domestic Ranking.
This is quite important, as it means that if a team qualified in a given country cannot fulfill the rules the Euroleague has set, the License will be lost by the country and goes to next country in the Euroleague internal league ranking, which has been released officially today. Right now, there are already several potential Euroleague candidates that don’t have the necessary arena size.
The third-place finisher in the Greek championship, Maroussi, is a B-License candidate but cannot fulfill the criteria to earn the license, as reports Talkbasket. A GM leaving the club, a 1200-seat arena and too few fans are not really speaking in favor of the team from Athens. If Maroussi does not get these issues straightened out, the license originally owned by Greece will move downwards to the next league in the ranking.
Belgium is one country earning a Euroleague Qualification Round spot through this new system; the Belgian finals are currently going on in Belgium between Spirou Charleroi and Dexia Mons-Hainaut. While Charleroi has all the necessary tools to play in the Euroleague, the story is different in Mons, as explained GM Thierry Wilquin to BallinEurope yesterday.
The most important thing is to know how this new system works. This has not been revealed officially so far. I think that the size of the arena should not matter, having a small but packed arena (Dexia Mons-Hainaut has a 3700-seat arena) is of course more attractive than a half-empty 5000-seat gym. We have not analyzed the criteria so far as we are currently not in the situation to play the Euroleague. But if we win the title, we will of course do everything to accept the honor to play in the best competition.
Wilquin seems to be ready to do anyything if Mons wins the championship. However, the arena problem is major for the Belgian team, as there are no alternatives available in the surrounding area.
Similar is the case of the Latvian champion BK Ventspils. The Latvians know already that they will be in the qualification round of the Euroleague, but their own arena has only 3000 seats. Will they move to Riga? Will they decline the license? Still to be determined. For Ukrainian champions Azovmash Mariupol, the arena may also become an issue in earning the Euroleague license.
Today, another Euroleague team announced a major change in their structure as Prokom Sopot moves to Gdynia. The transfer will be only 10 kilometers, but it’s an important move for the Polish team, as Gdynia has always been the home of Polish women’s basketball team Lotos Gdynia. The main asset of Gdynia is, of course, the 5000-seat arena, a major improvement for a team that once played in the old Hala Olivia.
As you can see, it is far from set which teams will compete next season in the Euroleague. We will keep you updated as various country representatives speak out officially on this subject.