Following the announcement on Monday of the decision by the Euroleague Commercial Assets Shareholders Executive Board to cancel the 2019-20 season in both the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and the 7DAYS EuroCup, Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu met in a video conference call with media members from across the continent to address the cancellation and to take their questions.
Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball President and CEO
Good afternoon to everyone, and thank you for joining us this afternoon.
I hope you all are healthy and safe. As you all know, today we have taken one of the more difficult and sad decisions in our history, and for some of us in our professional careers. But we did it with a strong conviction that it is the best decision for the good of basketball and for the good of our stakeholders. You know that we have exhausted every option and every possibility in trying to resume both the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and the 7DAYS EuroCup.
We had had every logistic and operational aspect solved: medical protocols, teams' accommodations, arena equipment, TV production, competition calendars with concrete games scheduled for both competitions. But it hasn't been possible. The decision should be taken today – after the assessment of data and relevant information available – but today.
This was our commitment in order to avoid extending the effects and the problems produced by the pandemic into next season. And I am referring to the players' rest, team training camps, the calendar – which, as you know, we have to combine with domestic leagues and also with national team activities in summer of 2020-21. So we had to be consistent with the principle that we anticipated a couple of months ago.
As I have said several times, again I have to say that our top priority is the health and safety of our players, coaches, referees, fans, partners and local communities. And the varied evolution of the pandemic in different EuroLeague and EuroCup territories does not guarantee that all teams will have the same conditions in their training camps and preparations to resume the rest of the season. Travel, quarantines, government policies regarding practices for indoor sports and other elements are different in our territories. And as a consequence of all of these facts, we have two aspects to be considered.
We have to consider the risk for the players' health, including injuries. And we have to consider that this unequal preparation regarding time and conditions for all of our teams will seriously harm the integrity of the competition.
To protect the integrity of the league has also been the reason that we have never considered as an option to reduce the number of teams or change significantly the competition format. This kind of approach, reducing the number of teams, will not reflect what the league is: a group of clubs that share the same principles and objectives, with no distinctions since the beginning of the competition until today.
As a consequence of applying the same values of sports integrity and fairness, the 2019-20 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague will not have a champion, nor will the 7DAYS EuroCup.
I want to add that I'm very proud about how this difficult decision has been approved by our clubs. Like in other occasions in the past, to be united has been fundamental when the clubs have accepted our proposal. They are completely convinced that unity is the most fundamental principle of action for any organization that wants to grow and progress. And today, they proved it.
I would also like to express my gratitude to the cities and regions that have shown their interest to host us for the end of the season. They have offered us maximum guarantees in terms of health, safety and operational aspects, as well. And in several cases, full government support. So we appreciate all of these efforts. These candidates have put forth an enormous effort and have displayed a great determination to ensure that every detail was in place to hold a safe and successful end of the season. But unfortunately, as you know, this cannot be possible.
So today we start working for the future. Together with clubs, players and coaches, we will prepare the next season. I am sure we will have the complicity and support of all of them. And together, we will come back stronger and better, to offer to our fans and our partners what they deserve – a great and amazing basketball experience. This is our purpose and we will start working on it beginning tomorrow.
Did player sentiment, or their salary situation, affect the decision?
"Well, I believe that what they shared with us on Saturday afternoon was a list of arguments, all of them very consistent and very solid. And we had a similar vision before this meeting. They knew, and we started with a very clear statement, that the purpose of the meeting was to hear them and to see how they feel regarding to resume the competition. But what they expressed were logical arguments, so nothing was new. It was a confirmation of something that we already knew. But definitely, I don't believe that this 5% has been the reason why they don't want to come back. I don't remember one of these 37 players that gathered in this meeting talking about economy. I think that their main concern was about the short time of preparation. Some of the players are still at home, with no possibility to go out. Some of them have no possibility to have practices or work together. They have been locked down at home for almost two months and a half, so to come back and to perform at the level that the competition requires is very difficult. And I have to say that many of the players expressed their concern that they probably will not be able to perform at the level that this league deserves, which means that they understand the responsibility they have to deliver the best they can and also to perform in the best shape possible. So it was more about, of course, health circumstances, but much was about the competition requiring a level that probably the players will not be able to deliver."
Why no August option?
"Because, as I tried to explain in my introduction, going further than July 26, that was our plan, would affect the following season. If we finish in August, like the Champions League, it would mean the players will need one month and a half to rest, they would need another month and a half for the preparation for the following season, which means that we would have to start the season in November at the earliest. If we have to start in November, and have to finish in time for the Olympics, we don't have time. And if you take into consideration that we also have domestic leagues, then it is a different thing. I don't know how UEFA will finish their calendars, I think there are still some question marks, but we definitely did not want to have another impact in a calendar that is already very busy, very complex, very complicated. And to postpone our decision. The only consequence we would have is to make the next season even more difficult than the one we had this year."
What have you discussed with IMG?
"As you can imagine we are in permanent contact with IMG, as together we are running the most important piece of the competition. So in these conversations, we shared the same concerns and ideas and we are trying to overcome all these problems together. Of course, now it's time to assess what will be the impact on this season regarding the economy for our clubs and it will depend, after the decision that has been taken today. As a consequence of this conversation we will have another one for the next season, and there is no doubt the commitment for both sides to work together has never been under question. So the only thing we will have to do is adjust our projections to what we believe is realistic, after the right assessment of the impact, when we have data that will allow us to do so. But there are no doubts in terms of commitment on the IMG side regarding the EuroLeague project."
Fans in the arenas next season?
"It is a little bit early to say because, first of all, we have to see the evolution of the pandemic in our territories. I don't think today that we can say that we will not have spectators. Probably what we will see is that in some countries we will have spectators from the very beginning of the season, other countries will have restrictions, and in others, we will probably have restrictions on fans to go to sporting events for a certain time. This is what we have to understand and we have to monitor the decisions of the governments that, as you know very well, are changing every week. So at this moment, what we know is that we have to be very active working with our fans to keep them engaged with our competition, to facilitate the clubs and the way they're working with their fans, with their customers. And that is exactly what we are doing. I believe that probably we will start the league in some countries without fans, but I strongly believe that we will come to normalcy in a few months. This is our view, but we have to wait and see."
Have any teams discussed leaving the EuroLeague as a result of the pandemic?
"It's too early to make an assessment about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy of the clubs next season. We started working with them last week to help them and advise them to implement strategies to overcome some of the difficulties that they have, in the commercial and ticket sales areas, but also in the standards for arenas in order to help and to make our fans more comfortable. Nobody is thinking about leaving the league because of the effects of the COVID-19 as far as I know and nobody expressed this sense in our meetings, so I don't know what you're referring to, but clearly, to know how next year will look is still too early. But the most important thing is that we expect that next year we will deliver the competition as always – with the exception of this year. So, we expect to come back to normal, the sooner the better. I will try to do our best in order to minimize the effect of the pandemic next year. Honestly, nobody expressed any intention to leave the league. Of course, you know that there are mechanics for the ones that want to leave the league and it's always been the same and that will not change with this."
Is financial transparency an issue? Referring to an information appeared about Mr. Giannakopoulos.
"I don't remember Dimitris (Giannakopoulos) expressing any doubts about our transparency. He expressed concerns about the economic impact of the decision on the clubs, which is a concern that, I think, everybody shares. But today, all the clubs agreed that this was not the topic. The topic is to understand if in the current circumstances we have guarantees to deliver the kind of competition we should do. And clearly, the conclusion was that we are not in this situation, we are not in this scenario. Regarding the economic consequences of this, it is a different topic, so the clubs do not believe that they have to subject one decision to the economic impact. They believe that the most important thing, as I said, is to guarantee the safety of our players and our teams. And this has been the main element. Of course, we will have time to discuss about the economic impact and how to minimize this impact. But today, this has not been the most important topic. In fact, we did not discuss about the economy today. What he expressed, Dimitris expressed his concerns about this, but of course, nothing else than that."
Why are all 18 EuroLeague teams are coming back?
"I think it is about fairness and about consistency. I understand that teams are leading their respective competitions; you also had a team leading the EuroLeague. But that does not mean that's the one who deserves to get the trophy, because the competition is not ended. There were still many options for other teams to become champions. And this concept is not only for the EuroLeague; it is for EuroCup and many domestic league, as well. So, what we are trying to show is consistency according to the values of the competition. If we cannot finish the competition, we cannot reward anyone.
"As a consequence of this, I understand the clubs that wanted to be a part of the EuroLeague next season, because it is a legitimate aspiration and we are proud to have clubs with this vision and these ambitions. But, unfortunately, we are in circumstances that nobody wants to be in. And I think that everybody has to understand how exceptional the situation that we have is. Accordingly, the consequences are also exceptional. For one year, there will be no promotion or relegation. And in both competitions there will not be champions. We are not happy and comfortable with this, but it is the reality. Basically, we have to express our values, and our values are around the concepts of the fairness and integrity of the competition. We cannot award a champion, and we cannot punish a team with relegation if a team has not been able to play regularly, as was the dream. That's the main reason. I hope everyone will understand that."
Will the 2021 Final Four will be in Cologne as well?
"Once again, it's too early to give an answer to that. We had a very good conversation with our friends in Cologne when we talked about the cancellation of this season. I believe that I can say that both sides want to try to organize a Final Four together, and if it's possible, to do it next season. Our commitment is to do all our efforts to make it happen, but it's something that cannot be confirmed yet."
How can clubs like Valencia Basket secure a spot for the 2021-22 season?
"We will apply the same rules. Let's say we are back to the beginning of the season, ALBA Berlin and Valencia Basket are two teams that got their right to play in the EuroLeague based on their results in the previous season in the EuroCup. They are subject to, let's say, a kind of promotion-relegation system that this year will not take place, it will be postponed for one year. So let's say that we will start from the beginning. So we will start the competition in October and Valencia, as well as ALBA Berlin, will know if they will continue to the 2021-22 season based on their sporting results in the 2020-21 season."
How big is the economic damage?
"Definitely, we are still working to know precisely the economic impact, and we cannot deny that it will be significant, because it is not only about media rights and EuroLeague and sponsors, but also about ticketing, local sponsors and many aspects that have to be taken into consideration. And still our clubs are working with their partners to renegotiate the terms of their agreements, and trying to minimize the impact of this season. So that's why we still need a little more time to work on this. But definitely, since last week, there is a group of teams that are working together with the league management in order to implement best practices and strategies in different areas of their commercial activities, trying to, let's say, not only to minimize, also trying to implement innovative strategies, and this is what we will need for the future, being innovative. So we have already started this conversation with the clubs. We sent them a first report with some guidelines, with some advice, in different verticals of the business. And definitely, we have to support them, trying to, let's say, to get back to where we were in the beginning of the season, the sooner the better, and we are definitely working in this aspect."
Effect on relationships with corporate partners, now and in future?
"You read my mind. Of course, in our conversation with our partners, we have to include and we have to consider that the current season was not normal, so we cannot expect them to commit to what was signed and expected at the beginning of the season. Part of our relationship with our partners is to see how we can help each other, as we are in trouble, they are in trouble. That is the real meaning of partnership – trying to help each other and keep building something that we started with many of our partners years ago. We will have different conversations with our media partners and our corporate partners and we will try to see how we can compensate them, but at the same time trying to keep part of the fee in order to guarantee what our clubs are expecting to receive. But also our clubs understand this season will be a different one regarding the incomes they will receive from the league. I think everybody is aware that this is a difficult season.
"But you mention the fact that this current crisis situation or problems can help us or can convince us we have to speed up our process for the future. Definitely this is one of the things we have learned from this crisis. We believe that it is clear that the gap between our clubs and the domestic league is bigger and bigger and at a certain point it is really is difficult to combine both. We are seeing this on a daily basis. Now, we have seen the Israeli League that wants to play in July and our clubs from Israel are in a difficult position to play this league.
"I think that not only because we now believe that it is time to proceed with our project, it is because if we see the environment of this product, it is absolutely necessary to present something new. Our expansion project was the last version of the EuroLeague, it was something fresh, something new. For the first time ever, our teams in the bigger markets, and I think this is the process that we need to speed up if we want to leave the crisis stronger. All the clubs are convinced about this principle and we are consistently working on this."
Wild cards for next season?
"Again, it's a bit early to answer this. You know that the EuroCup is basically made according to the domestic league rankings. We always keep some wild cards, and as you know there are different national leagues that have been taking different solutions and decisions regarding the standings of their league. So this year it will be particularly difficult to follow this principle. Some leagues, as you know, don't have standings. Others count their champion... In the next weeks we will go through all these, let's say, difficulties and have the most homogeneous picture possible.
"The principle will to be the same, standings from domestic leagues will be taken into consideration first, and wild cards for projects that we believe at certain point can join our project for ambition, owners or importance of the market... more or less the same principle we have been following the last years. But to be precise today is a bit more difficult. We have to investigate country by country, league by league."
Will EuroLeague's naming rights change soon?
"I do not expect any change in our naming rights. We have been enjoying a very fruitful relationship with Turkish Airlines in the last 10 years. We don't see, we don't feel anything that will change our view on that for the future. I know that conversations about Gazprom have been published in some media outlets. Honestly, I never had such conversations, so I don't know where the source comes from. We are extremely happy with Turkish Airlines. We have no doubts that we will continue working together as we did the last 10 years and I don't have any concern about this."
Why no champion? What about second wave of virus?
"Regarding the champion, I have to say there was no controversy on this point. It was not even discussed. Nobody argued, nobody asked, everybody understood the reason why we believe that, with six game dates still to play in the regular season, with the whole playoffs and the Final Four – despite there being a team that, as always, there has to be someone who is leading the league – it doesn't mean that this team deserves more than others in a competition that we are very used to seeing that the champion of the regular season is not always the champion of the league. So I want to insist that there hasn't been any controversy, anyone asking about this point. Everybody understood and everybody accepted, so there was not even a conversation about this. Regarding next year, as you correctly pointed out, we have to be ready if there is a second wave of COVID-19. We are sharing with our clubs some policies regarding arena standards in case this happens, which would be unfortunate. We have to prepare for that. And our management is in permanent contact with the clubs, clubs in contact with the arena managements in order to implement these policies and these different instructions that we will approve at the end of the season but that are already with our clubs, in order for them to have enough time to work on them. Because, as you know, most of the arenas are not owned by our teams, so they have to work with the owners of the arenas. This is what we are doing right now."
What about quarantines and season tickets for 2020-21?
"Next season we have to understand that each country will have their own protocols according to the situation and impact of the virus in that particular territory. We will go from countries that are free from this virus and they don't have any kind of restriction, to others that are probably still suffering, It is happening in some countries today, and they will probably need more time to get back to normal. Of course, we will see this; there is no answer to this. If the situation happens, take into account that we have the calendar of the season ahead, we will be able to postpone games, to change dates of the games, we will have time to do it because we will have the whole season in front of us. Of course, it will not be easy, because our calendar is very busy, but if have these problems occur, we will try to handle it by postponing games or changing the order of the games, or using any of these techniques in order to continue the normal rhythm of the competition. I think that we cannot do more than that. Also, we will try to establish a calendar where the teams that have difficulties with arenas will have easier conditions in order to play their home games, because we all have to understand this will be a different season. So we should introduce other principles in our calendar that take into account the current impact of COVID-19 and the future impact in the earliest months of next season. So we will try to adjust all of our policies to the new reality that we all are facing."
Will there be individual awards, teams leaving?
"Why is is not serious to talk about awards? It is the same argument that I used to explain why we will not have a champion. It's the same rationale behind the decision. Still with a very significant part of the season to be played, to decide who is the best player or the best coach is unjustified. If we have to be consistent with the main decision, which is not to have a champion, I think the rest of the awards need to go in the same direction.
"Regarding teams going from EuroCup to the FIBA Champions League, I always say the same thing: we respect the clubs' decision going to the competition they want to play. Clubs that have envisioned playing in the EuroLeague in the future, they know that their destination is the EuroCup. If, at a certain point, clubs give up their ambitions and believe that their future should be in another kind of competition, we have to respect that.
"I think it has happened in the past, with teams that left our league and moved to the Champions League, but we also had the other way around, with teams joining our competition. I am not concerned about this. I think we have to respect everybody's decision and they have to express it in total freedom. Of course, I cannot ignore the fact that if they want to play in another competition that is not the EuroCup, the assumption is that they don't have interest to be part of the elite of European basketball, but this is something we have to respect."
When was decision made?
"It has been a permanent process of monitoring the different elements that we had to take into account – from travel conditions to quarantine to medical protocols – and it was a process of compilation of information that led us to the conclusion that we are not in the position to offer fans the top-level competition that we are used to. So when is irrelevant; whether it was two days ago or four days go is irrelevant. The fact is that on April 23 we announced that decision will be taken on May 25 and it's exactly what we did. We did not want to postpone to try to have more information because, as I said at the beginning, it is a kind of domino effect. So if we postpone, everything has to be postponed and then we'll be affecting next season, and that is something that we did not want. This is the way we have been working to try to find a solution and trying to prepare a proposal to our clubs."
How difficult will it be for teams to keep the talent on the teams?
"I don't have concerns about keeping the talent on our teams. I think that, as you said, this season before it was suspended was the best season ever in our league. Fortunately, we have had many best seasons ever and I'm sure that the next one will be again the best season ever because I am counting on the commitment of our clubs. I'm counting on the commitment of our players. I'm counting on the fact that the EuroLeague has prestige. Today, it is recognized for the highest standards and we're lucky that many clubs and many players want to be part of this. So I have no concerns about our clubs keeping their talent, and I'm sure they will also improve it."
Did you hear from EuroCup teams who are the big losers?
"I don't see one team that has lost more than others. I think that this season, we are all losers. Euroleague is one more organization that is losing a lot by cancelling the competitions. And I think that it's the same for the teams that had the aspirations to become EuroLeague champions. Whether they made a huge investment in their roster, in their structure and finally, they can feel some frustration because we cannot finish the season. I understand that will be the same feeling for the teams that you mentioned, but at the same time, I am confident that they understand the reason why we are taking these decisions. They made a great effort to perform well, trying to get to the final stage of our EuroCup, but unfortunately, we could not finish the season. So for the same reason that there is no champion in the EuroLeague, we cannot have a champion in the EuroCup. I am very convinced that they will understand the reasons. I don't think we have responsibilities for what happened. And I hope, I am sure, they will keep the ambition to play in the future in the EuroLeague. Probably it has been... I understand their frustration, as I believe it is the same feeling that we all have: frustration. But we cannot say that there is one team that has been losing more than other. We are all losing as a consequence of this pandemic."
Will Lithuania get another EuroCup team?
"Lithuania is extremely important for basketball in Europe, so it is our intention to keep representatives from the country as long as they fulfill requirements, and we already know that there are teams there that want to play EuroCup next season. We will welcome back Rytas only if they have a vision to stay in the league. This is the only condition. We respect their decision, but it is not something that someone can go back and forth every year. That's not the way it works. We are not going to commit long-term contracts with teams in the EuroCup. It seems the Champions League is doing this; it is doing this also in exchange for money, something we never did and we will never do. So, we respect the freedom of each club to take their own decision, or their project for the future. The only requirement from our side will be to see a consistent and a long-term plan to be a part of this league. Without this, I don't think we need time to spend time talking with clubs. Probably, Rytas will be back with this kind of project. It has been a prestigious European team, and I hope in the future they will be back to the league. That's my hope."
Any chance for FIBA windows?
"We have national teams activity next summer, not during the season. Our calendar doesn't allow us to give opportunities to play national teams games with the regular season calendar. We know that at the end of next season we have an Olympic tournament and we have to understand that our players want to be there. And we have to include this in our requirements when we are preparing the calendar for next season. That was my intention."
Could teams train out-of-country next season?
"It can happen. In this moment, again, it's very difficult to foresee what will happen after the summer, especially if we have a second wave of this COVID-19. In the case that you described, our recommendation and our policy will be to recommend the team go to another market and play games there if that's the case if at the start of the season the situation is still in course in that particular country. It's not what we want, but if it's an exception with one or two clubs suffering this particular situation, I think we will be able to handle the problem without seriously affecting the regularity of the competition."
Will Financial Fair Play rules change?
"I believe it's clear that we will have a new situation, a more challenging time in the next couple of years as a consequence of this pandemic. And our view is that some of our regulations, including the financial fair play regulations, have to be adapted to this new reality. I think that our main concern is to have a league where the clubs are sustainable. Where the profit and loss can resist the impact of what is basically the main concept, which is the salaries of the players. I believe those are aspects that we will work with the clubs beginning the week. We want to have this conversation also with the union of the players because I think they have an important part of the responsibility in making our league sustainable as well. I think that the proposal will be a consequence of this open dialog with the relevant stakeholders. Definitely we believe that the financial fair play regulations have to be reviewed in order to be adapted to the new situation and try to protect the clubs for the future and to keep them sustainable and in good economic health."
It is realistic for Europe to have four club competitions still?
"Clearly we never agreed, and we will never agree, with the concept that Europe can have four club competitions. I don't think someone can believe that this is realistic, feasible and right. But sometimes from problems we can take opportunities. And probably this could be one scenario. So we started some, let's say, conversations in the last month with FIBA as a consequence of the pandemic. Both sides have been more focused on our internal problems, but before this happened, we had already had some conversations and I think that the atmosphere with FIBA is different – and probably not only for the pandemic but also as a consequence of the pandemic – to speed up the process of the conversation. It doesn't mean that we will manage to have less European competitions – we'll see – but I cannot deny that we have a new reality, and everybody has to make an effort to adapt to the reality of our sport, our competition and above all our economy, to the new situation. But we'll see. It depends on the evolution of these conversations, but we are totally open, as always, to have conversations about this."
Is expansion still under discussion?
"No, we did not have any conversation. We never considered to have more than the current number of teams. We never had this discussion internally, neither with the clubs. Because, as I said, this season has been cancelled, and we have to consider that nothing had happened. So, we have to start again. This is incompatible with increasing the number of the EuroLeague teams. By doing so it is also difficult to say, on what arguments are we going to reward one team or another. Also, EuroCup will not be finished. So, we never had this conversation.
"Regarding the future, we will have an expansion at a certain point, but it is still something that we have to work more on. We have to see how this could be compatible with the domestic leagues, and we have to take the right decision in each particular moment. As you can imagine, we are not in this discussion now, but as I said in an answer to the previous question, we definitely have a plan to expand the league to some markets. That does not mean we will increase the number of teams. But I am saying we want to have teams in key markets for us, that clearly are Germany, France, Italy, UK. They are markets that will be strategic for the future growth of the league, but that does not necessarily mean that we are going to increase the number of the teams."
Were you ever certain of resuming the leagues?
"Of course. It would have been very difficult to work on the plan to resume the competition without the belief that this is possible. I think that when you have an objective, when you have a goal, you have to be convinced that the goal is something that you have to achieve no matter what the difficulties are. But if the difficulties come from factors that are not under your control – as in this case – then you have to accept this. It’s not a failure, it is just circumstances that nobody can control and, of course, we did that."
What were our personal feelings during cancelled Final Four?
"My feelings towards the fans are really hard because you know that it is our principle that everything we are doing, we're doing for them. The players are playing for them, the coaches are coaching for them and all the things that the clubs are doing make sense only if we have fans. When we take a decision, we put always the fans in the center of this decision. We are always trying to see if this something that they want, something they expect. And we feel very sorry for them because when we were enjoying this amazing season, all of a sudden we have to stop and now we have to cancel. So the only thing I can do is to express our even stronger commitment that next season will be even better. This is the best gift we can give to them. The best thing that we can offer them is to work even harder to make the next competition even more exciting, and I am sure that our clubs will do it together with us."
Expansion of domestic leagues?
"As you know, there is not a very uniform and consistent policy across the domestic leagues in Europe, so each one is taking their own decisions and some of them are going in the direction that you have mentioned. And we have concerns, as we have a clear idea that we cannot interfere in these decisions; it is their responsibility. But I think it is very obvious for everyone who is in the business that to increase the games in the domestic... the number of games in the domestic leagues in a very busy calendar is not going to help the players and the performance of the teams themselves. I have to point out that increasing the number of the teams does not always means to increase the number of the games, because we also have to see which are the different competition formats that will be approved by the respective domestic league that are in these discussions. But clearly, an increase of the domestic league games as a consequence of this pandemic, I believe that will make every team more incompatible to compete in both competitions. The teams are playing in Europe and, at the same time, playing in their domestic leagues. I think that, in the end, if we cannot solve this problem, if we cannot have a more harmonized calendar, it will be very difficult for our teams to keep playing in domestic leagues, so I hope that we will not have this problem and the domestic leagues will find a way not to increase the domestic leagues, because I understand it is not their choices sometimes. We are all suffering the same situation, it doesn't mean it is their responsibility. But I believe we have been very clear about the competition being cancelled to all effects: with no champions, no promotions or relegations, and I think this is consistent and it is the way to avoid problems. Like I said, we cannot interfere with the decisions that are taken by other leagues. And I hope that this won't lead to have a more, let's say, complicated and busy calendar."
Will records from this season stand? Is transfer market the same?
"Let me give the floor to Ed Scott, our Chief Operations Officer. He will give you a better answer than probably the one I am capable to give to you."
Eduard J. Scott
"Kalispera, Vassilis, and thank you for the questions. Regarding the first point, the main thing is that the decision this morning was historic and unfortunate, and there are some details that still have to be discussed. However, as a point if principle, the performances by individual players and by teams, we believe they should be respected and should stay in the history books, so all of those individual and team records, let's say, in principle, would be maintained. However, it is also true that it has to be, let's say, formally ratified or formally finalized due to, as you correctly asked, the season itself is cancelled and so in terms of end-of-season results, this season will count as an uncompleted season in that respect. With regards of players transfer timeframes, again, this is something that has not been discussed in detail for two primary reasons. One is that whilst it is very possible or very likely that the NBA calendar for the new season will commence later in the autumn or most likely in the winter, there is still not a definitive decision. Obviously, when there is a definitive decision, this will have an impact on the global player market due to the relevance of the competition across global basketball. However, one of the important principles of the Euroleague Basketball competitions is also to respect the sporting integrity, and so therefore, like any other elite sports property, there will always be a deadline by which player transfers, by which new additions and free agents can be signed, whenever exactly that will be in the competition. So again, without wishing to avoid answering your question, that will be discussed, let's say, later in the coming weeks, when the situation is a little bit clearer. And I think, realistically, we are all aware, for sure, that the global player market this summer, this off-season, will – for several different reasons – be different than any other year. But obviously, we are also optimistic and positive that, like any other summer, EuroLeague and EuroCup clubs will have some exciting new additions for the new season that will help to add to the incredible product that we put on the floor."