European basketball stakeholders fire latest shot against Fiba’s plans

Euroleague Basketball and a collective of the continent’s leading clubs have fired the latest salvo against the International Basketball Federation’s (Fiba’s) plans for reform of the European game.

Following meetings in Barcelona yesterday (Wednesday), 11 clubs and the Euroleague Commercial Assets division of Euroleague Basketball communicated to Fiba their joint position with regards to European professional club competitions.

Fiba is attempting to drive through substantial reform of the global game that would include the introduction of a new European league structure backed by the world governing body. Indeed, on Wednesday, Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo said that CSKA Moscow, FC Barcelona, Anadolu Efes, Fenerbahce, Real Madrid, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Olympiacos and Panathinaikos have all been offered A licences for the new Fiba-backed European league.

Under a new format for a top division of European basketball, these elite A licence clubs would reportedly be joined by a further eight teams made up of the national champions of the likes of Lithuania, France, Italy and Germany, with a further four more qualifying via separate tournaments.

However, in a letter addressed to Fiba president Horacio Muratore, the relevant parties outlined a common initial position regarding the “Fiba New Company/New Competition.” The letter was signed by Jordi Bertomeu, chief executive and president of Euroleague Basketball, along with representatives of Spain’s FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Saski Baskonia; Turkey’s Anadolu Efes and Fenerbahce; Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv; Greece’s Olympiacos and Panathinaikos; Italy’s Olimpia Milano; Russia’s CSKA Moscow and Lithuania’s VSI Zalgirio.

The letter read: “Fifteen years after the creation of Euroleague Basketball we note that the clubs remain the base and foundation of all basketball activity worldwide. We are convinced that clubs must maintain the ownership and control of the competition, and are not willing to renounce this as it has been the key for the growth of European club competitions over this period.

“We take this opportunity to request and notify you that any further discussions regarding European club competitions are to be made with us collectively. We will form a reduced size committee in the coming days to represent the clubs and Euroleague Basketball executives in these discussions.”

The letter called for a number of months to study Fiba’s proposals in greater detail ahead of further meetings from November.