Van Den Spiegel: EuroLeague clubs don’t have enough courage to leave their local leagues


European Basketball Leagues Association (ULEB) President Tomas Van Den Spiegel attended The Athletic’s sports podcast hosted by presenter Mark Chapman and football reporter Matt Slater. In the broadcast attended by the President of the European Leagues Union, Lars-Christer Olsson, the subject was the European Super League initiative and the damage caused by the closed leagues to the European sports model.

Stating that the EuroLeague has already become a closed league, Van Den Spiegel said, “Since 2016, the EuroLeague has been a real closed league. Each issue in the league is decided by 11 teams and shareholders with long-term licenses. The local leagues that I represent are basically blocked and the teams’ performances in the national leagues do not affect their participation in international organizations. It was clearly impossible for a team to participate in the EuroLeague with its performance in the local league. “Even if you have an investor who will pour tons of money to become a champion in the EuroLeague, it is almost impossible to join the league because you do not have long-term licenses.”

“There is no solidarity between local leagues in the closed league”

Stating that the EuroLeague negatively affected the local leagues, Van Den Spiegel said, “Clubs are still competing in their local leagues and also in the EuroLeague, causing many conflicts. These clubs cannot do business without taking into account the important brands and their opinions. However, their recent priority has been the EuroLeague. While creating the calendar, we had to protect the weekends for the local leagues. This issue also affects local leagues’ sponsorships and local television deals as broadcasters are more interested in the EuroLeague. There is no solidarity between local leagues in the closed league. We can also see the effects of this at the infrastructure levels. On the other hand, the EuroLeague is currently not making the profits it wants, but it still continues to affect the economy of the local leagues ”.

“We filed a complaint to the European Commission for the EuroLeague”

Reminding that ULEB, one of the founding members of the EuroLeague in 2001, has no connection with the tournament today and they have complained about the EuroLeague to the European Commission, Spiegel said, “We filed a complaint to the European Commission for the EuroLeague. Leagues feel these effects and we try to explain how the EuroLeague affects the leagues. The European Commission observes certain parameters beyond financial gain and is the body that protects the European sport model. The European Commission was not normally the place we want to go. We would like to sit at the table with all our stakeholders and solve this, but if you want to make your voice heard and show that you are not satisfied with the situation, a commission is needed in all sports at some point. At some point, this commission will have to be an exemplary case for all sports. “If basketball is used in the formation of this case, we would be happy because we really believe what we say.”

“The goal in basketball should be to enlarge the financial cake and ensure that everyone gets a contribution”

“We are not the opposite of financial gain or the development of sports,” says Van Den Spiegel, saying that the goal in the European sports model is that all clubs, not just a few top clubs, make profit. However, what we need to see is that sports does not only occur with the presence of top clubs. Especially in Europe, there is a pyramid where low-ranking clubs can be damaged. In basketball, we are often compared to the USA, but we have a completely different infrastructure system than America. We are also talking about a single professional league for a country there. This makes it even easier to change the rules when needed. The European owners of the EuroLeague are examining the NBA model and think we need it in Europe. This is what ties the EuroLeague to the Super League in football. Owners wanting to follow the US model. We want to highlight our best players, but we must support basketball from the infrastructure, respecting those who remain at low levels. Goal in basketball

should be growing the financial pie, but now apparently it continues at the same level. What’s happening here just makes sure that the big clubs get big slices while the others get less. “The goal should be to enlarge the cake and make sure that everyone gets more contributions.”

“EuroLeague clubs don’t have enough courage to leave their local leagues”

Saying that EuroLeague clubs are unlikely to leave the local leagues, Van Den Spiegel said, “Some teams like Maccabi Tel Aviv are playing with two different teams. They know that they will already dominate the league at the end of the year. There were teams that wanted to join the leagues later and only take part in the playoffs. They don’t have enough courage to leave their local leagues. They know they can’t tell their local market and their fans that. We talked to different sports where our cases meet and to meet at the same point. We want the best for the sport, and national leagues are an integral part of it, in our belief. The Super League concept will continue to come to the table, but we need to find an integrated model that respects international club competitions, national leagues and national team competitions. There is a place for all three to live together, we just need to find the right model ”.

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