By Lefteris Moutis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The new season in the Euroleague is certainly going to be different. The details haven’t been finalized yet but what is certain is that 16 teams will participate in a single championship. How much is this going to help the competition?
The 2016-17 season is going to be a landmark for European basketball. Despite the elaborations and discussions that are taking place between the teams, the Euroleague and FIBA regarding the organizational part, it is certain that for the first time in the history of European basketball, the Euroleague will be conducted in a single group with all the teams intersecting with each other in the regular period with home and away games until the commencement of the playoffs.
Both the Euroleague and FIBA have decided that the teams are going to be reduced to 16 and the conducting system is going to be the same until the playoffs and the Final Four.
In favor of the new system
*Every team will be able to plan that they are going to play 30 times in the Euroleague and host all the big European teams at home. It’s definitely a big opportunity for the fans to see up close all the top players in Europe.
*Now, a lot of things will be decided in the regular period of the Euroleague. Until recently a team with a 10-0 record in the regular period started out with exactly the same record as a team that qualified to the Top16 in 3-7 (yes, a team has qualified with 3 wins too). In this way, until this year the regular period was a period of… preparation for the top teams.
*Every result counts. There isn’t (almost) any indifferent game for the teams. Even more so for any teams that have the minimum goal of advancing to the top 8.
*The competition between the big teams will increase dramatically, as they will now have big games on their schedule on a regular basis and won’t be able to “underestimate” a game as easily.
Against the new system
*The reduction of teams also reduces competition extremely and essentially creates a closed league with teams that are not recycled which, in turn, reduces the interest of teams that don’t have a permanent position in it, to participate. So, it’s possible to deter possible investors for the smaller teams.
*The last rounds are going to be fairly dull for teams that will have been mathematically disqualified from playing for a place in the playoffs. We won’t have so many “do or die” games, as in the current competition system.
*The many local derbies during the regular period will sometimes make the competition more “local” than “international.”
*It will be quite difficult for a surprise-team to reach the playoffs, because it will be hard for them to stay competitive until the end of the regular period. Besides, the more games you have, the smaller the margin of surprise…
Conclusion: The product will certainly be improved
In any event, the basketball is going to get better in terms of quality and it’ll become more attractive as spectacle and as a product to all the fans that are close to the sport, but also to the more casual viewers. In every round there will be several games between powerful teams and in this way the interest will likely grow.
This formation of the Euroleague competition is the most important step towards the adaptation of a (semi)closed league that will help basketball take off in terms of commerce and the sport itself. When the teams (even those with the permanent contract) know that they will have large revenues guaranteed for a decade, they will invest more money in their infrastructure and the commercial exploitation of their brand name as well.
Lastly, when the NBA, which functions as a model, has adopted a similar conducting system, it’s obvious that the time has come for Europe to follow suit…