EuroLeague sent to teams a Q&A on Covid-19 situation all around Europe.
Was the decision of suspending the league too late?
Since the first cases of COVID-19 arrived in Europe, we have said that we would try to maintain the regularity of the competitions as much as possible as that is our clubs commitment towards our fans first and foremost as well as our partners, but at the same time we have followed the instructions and guidelines from the WHO, the relevant national and local health authorities, as well as our Medical Officer to make sure every decision was based on reliable data. That is why we played behind closed doors in some games, relocated two other games, as well as established special protocols restricting access to players and coaching staffs. The latest developments the evening of Wednesday 11th March made the league and our clubs decide to suspend our competitions for the time being:
– the World Health Organization (WHO) labelled COVID.19 a global pandemic
– the increased risk for participants in games
– the increased restrictions of movement across Europe
– the vast amount of travel disruptions causing impossibility to reach some destinations
– the prohibition to hold games by some national governments
– the total prohibition or severe limitation for spectators to attend games by some national governments
– the recommendations by health authorities to prevent the spreading of the virus
What will be the impact for the League and its clubs?
This is uncertain as it is inevitably related to how long COVID-19 will last in Europe. There is already a negative economic impact for clubs, the league and our partners, as is the case with almost all business sectors around the globe. The size of the damage will depend on how quick the situation has gone back to normal.
What will happen with the competitions? Will they be finished? Will there be a champion?
I do not think it is worth discussing hypothetical cases at this stage. We obviously started to analyse many different scenarios earlier this month, but we will only be able to be more concrete when we have some certainty on when the situation will allow for the competitions to be resumed. For the moment we continue working on possible ways to finish the competitions and crown the champions, whilst monitoring the evolution of the situation.
What is going to happen with the Final Four?
As of today, the scenario of playing the 2020 EuroLeague Final Four at the end of May is still on the table, but obviously chances are getting smaller by the day. Together with the City of Cologne and LANXESS Arena we have started to identify alternative later dates. Our priority is to maintain the competition system including the Final Four, including moving the event to a later date. I would also like to send a message of tranquility to all our fans who bought their tickets back in November, as we will offer the opportunity to ask for a refund if the Final Four is finally moved.
Is EB contemplating a modification of the competition system?
Our priority is to finish the competition with the approved competition system, playing the six remaining Regular Season Rounds and the Playoffs, in a condensed calendar if necessary, and then the Final Four. This most probably will require for the season to end on a later date. However, we are ready for alternative scenarios. Whilst the uncertainty continues, we cannot confirm nor discard any option. Any changes would need to be approved by the ECA Shareholders Executive Board.
What is the situation with the players?
Since the creation of the ELPA we have been in constant communication with them, have reached agreements on different topics, and have started discussion towards a European Framework Agreement. Obviously since the COVID-19 virus arrived in Europe, this has become the central topic of our discussions and they have intensified in the space of days. After the temporary suspension of the EuroLeague we continue positive conversations directed to finding solutions to this challenging situation, and an understanding that the uniqueness of the situation requires everyone to make sacrifices and adapt to the reality. We are also holding these same conversations with the EHCB. We share updates with our clubs as and when new information becomes available.
Are players allowed to go back to their countries?
At present each club has its own standard contract with players, and their own national labour law. There is no EuroLeague Basketball rule on this point, although public health authorities and governments across Europe recommend citizens to avoid travel where possible, therefore our recommendation is for players, coaches, employees to stay in their club’s city. Any players that have or do depart their club’s city need to make sure they are available and able to return to resume the EuroLeague when the situation so allows, factoring in travel and quarantine regulations in each country.
What is the position of the clubs? Some say they don’t want to pay players, is that true?
We are in constant communication with clubs and with the ELPA. Several media outlets have published contradictory and inaccurate information on this point. It is in the common interests of all stakeholders to find mutual agreements given the extraordinary circumstances that sports clubs across the world are facing., with a view to minimising the economic impact of the COVID-19 virus.
What can fans expect from EuroLeague Basketball during this no-games period?
Fans are one of our main stakeholders and we are working very hard to provide them a wide variety of content through our website, Social Media platforms and in collaboration with our right-holders. We want to help them go through this transition period with archive full games totally for free, initiatives developed together with our players like the #ISTAYHOME campaign launched yesterday and more things that we will published during these days. Games are not being played but basketball will not stop, moreover in such an important season when we are celebrating our 20th anniversary and we have so many memories to remember all together.
Suspended European Basketball Competitions as of 18 Mar 20:
• All others