The neverending story of the Euroleague’s new competition system continued this week with a meeting between clubs and league representatives in Rome.
In our last update on the situation, the only real news was that the Euroleague had accepted opening discussions on a qualification round. This point has now been accepted, and we will see normally a qualification round with eight teams competing for two spots from next season on. In Euroleague marketing terms,
The proposal discussed would allow double the number of national champions to participate in the top European competition compared to the current format, by opening the Euroleague up to 30 teams when including the Qualifying Rounds.
This clearly means that these eight spots are designated national champion spots. Currently, the Euroleague already features national champions from the major countries, so this gives the possibility to get new countries in the race for a spot in the League. I’m particularly thinking here about countries like Ukraine, Latvia and Belgium, to name just three.
The main changes, however, come from the different licenses, especially License A, which represents an automatic long-term Euroleague spot). The original system had 16 A Licenses, of which two could be distributed to “wild cards.” The favorites for these spots were ASVEL Villeurbanne and ALBA Berlin. However, the number of A Licenses has been reduced to 13 and no more wild cards will be released.
This is a large change, as these licenses are mainly distributed through sportive criteria (60%), and the elimination of wild card spots makes it nearly impossible for smaller teams to get a long-term contract in the Euroleague. Thus, the possibility of a London-based team is thrown away and other hopefuls like ASVEL see their Euroleague plans (boosted by Tony Parker’s recent investment in the team) are drifting away. Anyway, Gilles Moretton of ASVEL Villeurbanne
reacted strongly to the latest evolution in this topic.
These results are in the logic how French basketball works. Everything is going down for years now and how far can we fall? Everybody is only looking at his own interest and nobody wants to see what other are building to improve for the future. And now we pay it cash.
For France, this new system means the country will receive only one B License and a second team in the qualification round: a huge step backwards for a country that once featured threeEuroleague teams and had hoped to get a permanent wild card spot and a B License in the new system.
The other important change in this new system is the fact that if an License A team wins a national championship, the country’s B License is not transferred to the runner-up but to the next best league in the internal Euroleague Domestic Leagues ranking table. Additionally, this ranking determines the three best leagues that have rights to B Licenses for their runners-up and third-place teams. It sounds complicated, and it is complicated.
Finally, the C License for the EuroCup winner still exists. However, if the EuroCup winner wins its national championship, the team would enter the Euroleague as national champion and the Eurocup C Licence would become a wild card.
In general, this means the new structure is composed of 13 A Licenses, eight B Licenses, one C License and two qualifiers.
But which teams will get which licenses? Let’s first look at License A. For me, the favorites are:
- CSKA Moscow
- Maccabi Tel Aviv
- TAU Ceramica
- FC Barcelona
- Real Madrid
- Olympiacos Piraeus
- Montepaschi Siena
- Unicaja Malaga
- Efes Pilsen
- Fenerbahce Ülker
But then we have still two spots open. Here enters, in my opinion, the other 40% of the criteria. You have to know that TV rights account for 30% of this, and France has the largest broadcast contract with Euroleague basketball. Even if recent results haven’t been so good, this may be an important factor; the license won’t be awarded to a nation but to a franchise, however, and it’s difficult to determine a team from France that could receive this license.
The same goes for Germany, where ALBA may have the best record in terms of Euroleague attendance, but this 10% will probably not be enough to gain over the several years of Euroleague draught of the German capital’s team.
So who can take the two other spots? According to some reports from Lithuania, Zalgiris would get one of these spots and according to Blic of Serbia, Partizan has been granted a guaranteed spot, too. So we would have Zalgiris as #12 and Partizan as #13.
For the B Licenses, it will be more difficult as the specific national League ranking is not known. Forum visitors have been discussing that this ranking may look like this so we would have the following national champions or runner-ups qualifying. However, I would see more or less the following ranking in, for example, the aforementioned Blic report which states that the Adriatic League is taking over the Serbian league spot; this means that the same may go for Croatia and Slovenia but nothing further is certain. Taking all this into account, we arrive at the following B License ranking.
- Spanish champion * **
- Italian champion *
- Russian champion *
- Greek champion * **
- Turkish champion * **
- Adriatic champion *
- French champion
- German champion
The * following the country’s name indicates an already-owned A License, and so the spot would go to the next best national league. So the first two countries to get a B License will be the runners-up or third-place teams from Spain (5th team), Italy (2nd team), and Russia (2nd team), should an A License team win a national championship there. Then comes the national champion from France and Germany.
So we have still three open B License spots. The Euroleague is talking about at least 12 national champions, so the ranking must integrateat least the three next best national league champions, which would probably be Ukraine, Croatia and Poland. However, leagues like Belgium, Latvia, Serbia or Slovenia enter the race here, too. Here will be the most difficult choice to make.
The eight qualification round spots are not very clear as to which teams will get some of these, but these will probably be filled by runners-up from countries with only one A or B License like Israel, France and Germany and from leagues that are just not qualified for a B License such as Slovenia, Belgium and Latvia.
Still, this new formula is far from approval, as only the Euroleague general assembly can vote in favor of a competition system. So we have to wait until then to know what Euroleague 2009-2010 will look like.