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Fiba launches Basketball Champions League

The International Basketball Federation (Fiba) has officially launched its Champions League competition, stressing that access to the new European club tournament will be based on sporting criteria.

The Basketball Champions League launched at Maison du Sport in Paris yesterday (Monday), as Euroleague Basketball continues with its separate plans to revamp its existing competitions.

Fiba said 32 teams will play in the Champions League’s regular season. Eight of them will earn their spots through a qualification round played with 24 teams. The total number of teams involved in the new competition stands at 56, coming from 30 countries.

Teams will qualify for the Champions League through their national leagues, which Fiba outlined as the competition’s “most important criterion”. Direct qualification for the regular season will be afforded to the countries of Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Spain and Turkey. The exact allocation of places will be decided at a later date by the Champions League board.

In its inaugural 2016-17 season, a guaranteed minimum of €4.5m ($4.95m) will be distributed among the participating clubs. Every club will receive at least €100,000 in financial support as well as funds towards TV production costs of home games. Increased payments, depending on sporting performance, will also be implemented, with the winner of the Champions league standing to take home €500,000.

Markus Studer, Fiba’s chief operating officer and chairman of the board of directors of the Basketball Champions League, said: “The fundamental principle of the Basketball Champions League is that it is a competition based on a sporting criterion. This will not only protect the national leagues but also dramatically increase their value while also helping our sport grow.”

The formal launch of the Champions League comes after Euroleague Basketball last week outlined the proposed competition system, structure and future evolution of its Euroleague and Eurocup competitions.

Euroleague Basketball’s join venture project with the IMG agency will feature 40 professional clubs and aims to mark the start of a “new era” for the sport in Europe. Following meetings held with domestic leagues and clubs in Barcelona, Euroleague Basketball laid out the draft proposal for the allocation of places in its two competitions from the 2016-17 season onwards.

The attendees agreed to propose allocation criteria that will see four domestic leagues – Adriatic League, German Bundesliga, Spanish Liga ACB and Russian VTB United League – gaining direct, B Licence access to the top-tier Euroleague. They will join the 11 A Licence clubs – Anadolu Efes Istanbul, CSKA Moscow, Olimpia Milano, FC Barcelona, Fenerbahce Istanbul, Saski-Baskonia, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Olympiacos Piraeus, Panathinaikos Athens, Real Madrid and Zalgiris Kaunas – and the Eurocup champion in the competition.