Jordi Bertomeu meets media at Eurocup Finals

May 01, 2014 by Print
Jordi Bertomeu meets media at Eurocup Finals
Jordi Bertomeu - Finals Valencia 2014 - EC13

Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu met the press shortly before the start of the Eurocup Finals at Pabellon Fuente de San Luis in Valencia, Spain. Bertomeu made an opening statement and also took a number of questions from the media members at hand in which he discussed, among other things, Valencia’s prospects of playing in the Euroleague in the future.

"I want to take this opportunity to say that we have a positive opinion of the 2013-14 Eurocup season. We think that the format, with a new formula in which Euroleague teams entered the competition, tremendously increased the competition's level. It allowed the best teams in the competition to make it to the Finals, which was not easy for anyone. We are going back to a two-game final, a competition formula which was the first one we used. We thought that going back to the beginning was the more convenient option for the fans who followed their team all season long. Looking ahead, we want to keep the formula for some time to avoid the changes that did not help to consolidate the competition. Keeping the format is the more convenient option - it was presented to the Euroleague Board and was accepted, so the format will not be modified."

"Congratulations to the two teams that arrived to the final. Obviously, you are most interested in your home team. Valencia had a brilliant season in Spain and Europe and is in the Finals due to the effort it made all season. Competing in such a tough competition, especially with the new formula this season, speak about the talent and self-demanding standards its roster had. It is all in the hands of the sports results and I hope that the best team wins."

Question: Is Valencia a candidate for Euroleague A license for the 2015-16 season?

"Valencia Basket always has chances to get a license. In some certain countries, not many, the champion and finalist always have licenses. Valencia always has chances through the Spanish League and the Eurocup. The license system is being reconsidered. We think that the system has many positive things and some mistakes we would like to fix. We have to look forward and in the short term, we would like to correct the system's functionality. In that sense, modify the licenses system to gain flexibility like in the Spanish situation, which is full of advantages. No other country enjoys Spain's situation. We want to make it more flexible and easier for everyone. Spain has more advantages than a lot of countries. It is an idea we haven't presented to the Euroleague Board yet, but it is our intention to do it and get it approved in July to start with it in the 2015-16 season."

Question: Does Valencia deserve a Euroleague license?

"Deserving means to match the conditions that the rules demand in order to get something. Deserve it in terms of the Euroleague rules, which means that the Spanish League champion and finalist, as well as the Eurocup champion, get to play the Euroleague. As long as Valencia matches one of these requirements, like it did in the past, it will deserve to play the Euroleague and have a guaranteed spot."

Question: Could there be five Spanish teams in the Euroleague?

"First of all, what I said was not that five Spanish teams could have permanent licenses in the Euroleague. The Eurocup winner is perfectly eligible, it is part of the rules. What we cannot think is that Spain will have five permanent licenses, A and B combined. It cannot happen and it will be like that in the future. The Spanish League has a priority due to the sports credit that a club has; it is more valuable to have a Spanish League spot than the Eurocup one and therefore, a good ranking in the ACB gets a better reward. In that case, the Eurocup license can be empty and the decision on how to fill it depends on the Euroleague board. The only criteria comparing B and C licenses in Spain is that the team which reaches the Euroleague through the Spanish League gets the advantage. If a team that doesn't have an A-license is first or second, it would mean that an A-license team, the worst in the [national leagues] ranking, would have its license suspended for a year. It is a rule that we approved three years ago."

Question: Will you be changing these guidelines?

"You want us to be more specific but it is difficult because we are still working on it. Being flexible is the idea - I will choose a standard example to avoid misunderstanding. It is obvious that the current system has some problems in some countries in terms of B licenses and A licenses. If an A-license team wins its domestic league, its spot goes to the next country, not to the next best-ranked team. This system has been in effect since 2009 and allowed us to get more countries into the Euroleague, which we consider a positive thing. It has a bad effect, which is that some teams don't know if they will play the Euroleague until the very end of the season, when the chart is completed. It is a dysfunction of our system and we would like to fix it; that is our working guideline from now until July. The system is rigid in Spain now with four A licenses, but the first and second-ranked team always play if they are not an A-license team. A team that deserves to play always made it. The system can be liked or not, but whoever was first or second in Spain always played the Euroleague - it leaves no room for opinions. We see that there is a problem, however, and we will try to fix it. It is a fact that Spain has four spots and that its champion and finalist always make it to the Euroleague. No team has been out that has fulfilled these requirements. Let's not forget this."

Question: Is it possible for Spain to have less than four spots?

"I think that Spain deserves to have four teams in the Euroleague at this time; we don't know what the Euroleague shareholders think. Unicaja was ninth in Spain, but 12th in the Euroleague. Being 12th in the Euroleague is more important than ninth in Spain. The rules reward the Spanish champion and finalist, it is one of the three or four countries in which this rule is applied. In some countries, only the champion qualifies and in some others, not even that. The fact that a fourth-ranked team plays and a ninth-ranked team doesn't could be seen as strange, but the ninth-ranked was 12th in the best European competition, which is more relevant than being ninth in Spain. Some teams come from national leagues and some play directly. It happens in tennis; some players enter a tournament directly and others play a qualifying round.

"When we make the rules, we have to be clear. We cannot look into specific situations because that would force us to change the rules constantly. When the season starts, you have to know how it finishes. If we look at specific situations, we would have changed every season. Valencia went to the Euroleague playoffs in its last appearance but was also eliminated in the Spanish League quarterfinals, too. Changing rules on the run generates insecurity. We need a wide criteria without getting into details - if we did that in Spain, France, Italy or Germany, it would be crazy."