“We’re here to stay”: BCL’s past, present and future in an exclusive interview with Patrick Comninos

“We’re here to stay”: BCL’s past, present and future in an exclusive interview with Patrick Comninos

Basketball Champions League’s CEO has spoken at length about the current affairs of the FIBA-run competition, its first four seasons and its future.

Do you have a timetable on when to announce the teams for next seasons, but also the location of the Final Eight to end the current one?

We are in this unique condition in which we are planning a new season while at the same time planning the conclusion of the current season. More concretely, as far as the conclusion of the 2019-2020 season we will be having a Final Eight for the competition in the first week of October, and over the next two weeks [the interview was taped on Thursday, June 18] we will announcing the city that will host the event.

In parallel to this, we are planning the 2020-2021 season, and we had the first step on June 5th, which was the deadline to send the application to participate. We’ve received more than 60 applications from almost 30 countries of clubs interested to participate in BCL. The next step is on the board, the BCL board, to meet and to approve the 44 clubs that will play in next season’s competition, and that will take place on July 2nd.

As of July 2nd or 3rd, we will communicate the total of teams that will be play into the competition, those who will go directly into the Regular Season and those who will play the Qualification Rounds. Group and Qualification Round draws will be scheduled for the middle of July.

Do you have a general idea of how Qualification Rounds will shape this year, given new timetables for domestic leagues due to COVID-19?

We are in the process of defining this, taking into consideration the limited time that may be available to us. We are identifying the best solutions to do this, and all this will be discussed at the upcoming board. If you want my estimation, is that we will be looking again at 2 Qualification Rounds, same as last year.

How is important to BCL the idea of having teams qualifying through Qualification Rounds, given the successful history of realities like Antwerp or Murcia?

I would say that Qualification Rounds are paramount, essentials and part of our DNA. When we spoke about the new model, it is one that in our view promotes organic growth of basketball in Europe. We need clubs that are able to sustain themselves, and to grow the market share of basketball independently.

We can not rely on football money, on government money, we need clubs that produce money or market share on their own. We need to have a true pan-European footprint and representation in Basketball Champions League. In order for us to be able to promote and to develop, we need clubs that have earned their opportunity to participate in BCL to do so.

We are very inclusive: any club that wins the championship in its own country has the opportunity to participate in BCL, whether directly or via the Qualification Rounds, and this is where the Cinderella Stories takes place.

Last year we’ve had Falco Szombathely from Hungary, they allowed us to put basketball in the front pages of Hungarian media; you mentioned Antwerp, who from the Qualification Round went on to play and organize a Final Four; in the past we’ve had teams like Swiss champions Fribourg. We want this to always be an opportunity for the club, it is part of our philosophy: if a team performs well in its domestic league, they should be given the opportunity to have an European season.

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