By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season is scheduled to start on the 1st of October and even if at this point having fans on the stands seems a longshot, the season is expected to start on time with the league hoping for the best.
The clubs will have to be creative and find ways to compensate for the gameday revenues, however, all the sponsorship and television right deals of the EuroLeague remain practically unchanged from their pre-pandemic status.
Turkish Airlines, the naming sponsor of the league, despite rumors about the opposite, remains one of the main partners of the EuroLeague. Plus all the major long-term television deals in Europe were already locked. Even in the Baltics, where the television rights contract expired, EuroLeague and TV3 Group extended their partnership pretty much under the same terms and a new deal was announced specially for Lithuania.
That’s why the funds of the league remain in great shape and the league can improve the cash flow of the clubs by raising the market pool shares and rewarding the final standings of the upcoming season, which is expected to be concluded in Cologne with a Final Four.
Meanwhile, EuroLeague is trying to help the clubs find different revenue streams that may at least cover some of the losses of not having fans on the gyms.
A different kind of advertising
With the coronavirus pandemic creating new conditions for everything, EuroLeague urged all the clubs to push for a digital upgrade, but the results of this effort depend on each club and each market.
What’s almost a given for every club is that they will try to use the empty stands for more advertising opportunities. All EuroLeague gyms are expected to have a second line of led boards to increase such opportunities and also prepare to see advertising banners or even bigger canvases, which will cover the seats if needed, and also act as advertisements.
Nobody, of course, expects that this measure will compensate for the losses of ticketing income, but if no fans are allowed on the gyms on the 1st of October, this is practically the only other alternative.
The last resort of a bubble
At this point, EuroLeague still believes that the season will start on time and hopes that at least some fans will be allowed to be on the gyms. However, with Europe facing a steady rise in reported COVID cases, nothing is off the table.
EuroLeague is in contact with epidemiologists and WHO, the final health and safety protocols for games and travel are expected to be established in September and everyone prepares for a season that will run as scheduled, even behind closed doors.
Having said that, it’s naive not to prepare for the worst. A “Bubble” like the one of the NBA which proved to be safe, is the last resort for the EuroLeague. There are several reasons for that. One of the main issues that EuroLeague has to tackle in that case is the schedule, which is also dependant on domestic leagues. To get to a “Bubble”, EuroLeague clubs must either abandon their countries’ leagues – most of which are also aiming for an October tip-off – or get some kind of understanding with them for the schedules to change.
If we get to that point, it seems that even this scenario, a total retooling of European leagues’ schedules can’t be excluded, because a “Bubble” will probably also mean a change in the format. Still, we are far away from this.
With that being said keep an eye on the two pre-season tournaments in Kaunas and most importantly in Valencia. Nobody will admit it, but they might also serve as a dress rehearsal for the EuroLeague version of the “Bubble”.