In the neverending story of the new Euroleague system to be approved, the two parties that are discussing the issue (or sending out press releases on it) came up with some news this week. Well, to call it “news” may be a bit much, as both parties told the press that they are still behind their own models. However, a first step was made to come to a consensus.
The first meeting was on Monday in Vitoria, where the Euroleague held a working meeting with 14 teams and three league representatives. Euroleague Basketball clarified the organizational structure and explained that the decisions remain among the participating clubs. What was new in the Euroleague propositions was the fact that the discussion of a qualification round has been opened. This was not the case in the initial model of the Euroleague which had a three-license model. (License A: long-term spot with no fixed year limits; License B: qualification based on ranking system; License C: Eurocup winner.) What also comes out of the Euroleague press release is that the 10,000 minimum capacity only counts for the License A teams.
Yesterday, the ULEB General Assembly had a meeting in Barcelona where it approved the competition model based only on sportive qualification criteria as proposed during their last assembly in Paris. The new project guarantees the participation of 30 teams from 25 countries in the Euroleague taking as reference the Champions League. The main principles of this model are a qualification based on annual sportive results, the fulfillment of minimal structural criteria (arena capacity, budget, and so on) and a dynamic ranking that determines the number of teams and leagues represented.
What is the situation now for the next years?
For the moment, no model has been approved yet. Both the Euroleague and the ULEB have made a proposition but it will be the Euroleague General Assembly and its 33 allowed voters (24 EL teams, 9 participating leagues) that must approve it by a 80% vote. The next general assembly is scheduled for January 2009 so there is still plenty of time for debate.
What are the main differences of both models?
The Euroleague model is based on the fact that a restricted number of teams will get “lifetime” participation in the Euroleague, similar to the NBA. This is of course supported by those teams that would be in the position to get such a license, also called License A.
The ULEB model puts the sportive criteria up front and does not want “lifetime” memberships in the Euroleague but a qualification modus where every league can send their best teams in the race. This model is of course backed by the different national leagues as it gives more opportunities to other clubs to qualify for the major European basketball competition.
What are the next steps?
The Euroleague has already made a first step by starting the debate on a qualification phase. This would give more opportunities to “smaller” teams to find their way to the top competition, something quite impossible with the current proposal of A-B-C Licenses. The goal is now to find a compromise that is acceptable by the leagues and by the clubs.