Euroleague seals IMG deal to remodel European club basketball

Euroleague Basketball has signed a 10-season deal with the IMG Events & Media agency to establish a new joint-venture to operate relaunched European club competitions from the start of the 2016-17 season.

The deal includes an option for an additional 10 seasons to extend the relationship through to the 2035-36 season and includes a remodelling of Europe’s top basketball tournament structures.

The Euroleague and IMG will manage the commercial operation and all global rights covering both media and marketing.

Earlier this month, Fiba, the sport's global governing body, proposed the launch of a new Champions League tournament to replace the current Euroleague. However, in announcing the new development, the Euroleague said it would remain open to discussions with Fiba, despite the governing body’s proposal having been rejected.

"The clubs wish to thank Fiba for the work it has done in recent months and the proposal it presented," said the release from the Euroleague. "The clubs announced their firm wish to continue conversations and discussions held over recent months to achieve consistent unity among all basketball stakeholders – namely clubs, domestic leagues and federations – joining forces to develop common strategies and policies that work towards the sole objective of growing the sport of basketball at all levels. Clubs will present the new project to the international federation and invite Fiba to join, working together for the growth and benefit of both club and national team competitions."

The agreement was sealed following a meeting in Barcelona by the 11 clubs that currently have 'A' licences in the Euroleague – Anadolu Efes Istanbul, CSKA Moscow, EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, FC Barcelona Lassa, Fenerbahce Istanbul, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, Olympiacos Piraeus, Panathinaikos Athens, Real Madrid and Žalgiris Kaunas.

Under the new model, the Euroleague will have 16 teams including 11 permanent franchises, with the potential to expand that number in future. There will also be a berth for the Eurocup champion, three direct-access spots for domestic league champions and one place for the winner of qualifying rounds featuring eight teams. The 16 teams will compete in a round-robin regular season of 30 rounds before best-of-five playoffs, with series winners advancing to the Final Four.

Meanwhile the Eurocup will have 24 teams – 21 with access through domestic leagues and three wild card invitations. A 10-round regular season will be followed by a 14-round Top 16, two-game quarter-final and semi-final home-and-away series before the championship game.

"The new competition system builds on the principles of the brand, ownership and management of professional club competitions as well as the growth experienced over the past 15 years," the Euroleague said. "This completes the vision of the clubs, expressed in the conclusions and strategic plan approved during the 2011 owner’s meeting in Versailles, since when Euroleague Basketball has been working on the clubs’ behalf. The clubs expressed their satisfaction at having made the definitive step toward a true European league in which all teams play each other and at being able to continue the evolution and growth they have experienced in recent years."