The Euroleague is experiencing a moment of growth and is studying its expansion to new countries, including the United Arab Emirates, although for the moment there is still no defined roadmap. The president of the competition, the former Serbian player Dejan Bodiroga, and the general manager, the American Marshall Glickman, spoke to some media in an informal chat just hours before the final on Sunday. The two joked about their status as ‘rookies’, not in basketball, but in their positions after replacing Jordi Bertomeu last year, who was in charge of the Euroleague for 22 years.
Bodiroga spoke of excellent numbers in various aspects, including pavilion attendance and media growth, an upward trajectory and going to another level. Glickman highlighted the progression in classic European basket countries, such as Greece, Turkey, Serbia and Lithuania, although there is still room for improvement, and the upward situation in priority markets such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom, where this year there was a team in London in the Eurocup with good results. And he pointed out that the slogan “every game matters” is the best because it is real and in the NBA it is not always like that. For him, the expansion to other countries and to more than 18 participating clubs will take place, although he cannot specify when. Some cities and clubs with important markets have considered the options for when that expansion occurs.
To the Middle East? Nothing has been done, but he assures that potential, as has been seen in football and other sports, is very important. In this scenario of growth, the calendar is one of the great challenges, while he did not rule out the possibility of including a play in like in the NBA that involves more teams in the fight to qualify for the playoffs. Whatever happens, next year it will be played with the same number of clubs, 18, and the same format. Also in the Eurocup, so any variation will be for 2024-25 at the earliest.
When the clubs meet in their usual assembly in mid-June, it will be known which 18 teams will be inside. Gran Canaria has earned the right to participate on the track, after winning the Eurocup, but the island club is trying to increase the budget to be able to compete with a minimum of guarantees. The rectors of the Euroleague trust that he will say yes to their participation, fulfilling, of course, the economic and other requirements. However, if they finally choose not to embark on the Euroleague, Valencia would almost certainly continue another year in the competition. SIf Granca enters, Valencia’s options seem very slim, because it would be difficult to see five Spanish clubs at the same time. In principle, although they did not slip into the match, the Bologna Virtus could receive one of the invitations. And it also looks like Partizan and Red Star Belgrade can meet again. In fact, Glickman agreed that there should be two Adriatic League clubs and more if the Euroleague grows, because they jointly bring 30,000 people to their pavilions in one day.
Open negotiations with FIBA
The relationship with FIBA is very much alive, they say. There was a meeting in the fall, then another with representatives from five EuroLeague clubs, and there have been more meetings since then. The talks are productive and a long-term agreement could be reached on the calendar, the Windows, the competitions and their control to make them work, including a possible merger between the Eurocup and the Basketball Champions League. The resounding objective: peace and stability in the long term. Because they are clear, Bodiroga the first, since he was a fixture with Yugoslavia in his playing days, that players like to go with their national teams, and that it is positive for all of basketball that this happens.
Glickman, who comes from the NBA world, discussed the importance of the agreement with the ESPN for the Euroleague games to be seen in the United States and said that he had received many positive responses for that decision. The broadcasts started last month and contemplate a wide margin of growth.
Another topic on the table was the streamlining of video reviews, although the NBA model, which works so well, is not viable, at the moment, for economic reasons, since they spend tens of millions of dollars on technology there. They believe that a balance must be found between sports justice, in reference to the reviews, and that the product is interesting for the fan, without such long breaks.
Several of the journalists were not satisfied with the sanctions, they considered them low, after the fight in the second game between Madrid and Partizan. The rectors stressed the independence of the disciplinary judge and the decision process, and the difficulty of it due to the lack of precedents. The judge worked with the current statutes and everything is open to analysis, even changes. Bodiroga stressed that after the incident there was a great reaction from both clubs and the players, very sporting, asking for forgiveness.
Finally, the clashes between the Euroleague and Panathinaikos seem to be a thing of the past. The relationship with the Greek team is now very calm. There are many issues on which to move forward in the coming months, some of great importance for the future of the competition.