17 000 fans for the BCL F4 in Belgium, that must be something very special for you ?
As a Belgian citizen, I am very happy of what I have seen here this week end. When I saw that Antwerp qualified for the F4 and that they were ready to host the event, let’s be honest, I had my doubts. I know the Arena and it was going to be a major event, and therefore a major bet. Basketball is popular here but it is not a major sport. So I am very proud of what BCL, the club of Antwerp and the city achieved. This was a really hig level sport event.
BCL is working hand in hand with the European national leagues that are shareholders for most of them. Is this coordination a fundamental element of success ?
The national leagues are the base of everything is European basketball. With the growth of the BCL, I think we’ve found a good solution, the right formula. Us, ULEB, we are still shareholder in ECA. But beyond the institutional relationship, we need a dialogue. The national leagues and ULEB are always ready to find a model that works for everybody, national leagues, national teams and European competitions. We want to lead those negotiations. We are here to help find solutions for everybody, especially on the calendar issues that are problematic right now.
Recently, ULEB has publish a press release about the new Euroleague’s calendar. ULEB pointed the lack of coordination and the problems linked to a longer Euroleague season. Why did you do it ?
We need dialogue. It does not help basketball if someone only thinks about his model. We have to consider every part of European basketball, players, clubs. We need to talk with an open mind where everybody wants to find solutions. You can not only think about yourself. The Euroleague did not consult with us on its new calendar. It does not have to, but since the national leagues provides the club that participate in the Euroleague, it should be logical to talk with us.
Many national leagues president, like Alain Béral in France, worry about the will of Euroleague to plays its game on week-ends. What is ULEB opinion on that matter ?
We have put this issue clearly on the table on several occasions with Euroleague. The week-end has always been the moment of national leagues and ECA has guaranteed to us that it will stay this way.