The ECA Shareholders Meeting met in Barcelona on Thursday to approve the final results of a highly successful season that met all profit projections and to look forward to continued growth the next one, which starts with the 2012-13 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Draw on Friday. The main order of business was to approve the teams that will play next season in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague, which will feature a new Top 16 round expanded to 14 games, and in the Eurocup, where the qualifying round was eliminated and a single-game final reestablished. The shareholders also analyzed a summary of last season's sporting and fiscal success before making plans to enhance fan enjoyment and security in the future.
For the 24-team Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season, all new licenses and wild cards recommended by the ECA Shareholders Executive Board, which met in mid-June, were approved by the shareholders. Shareholders discussed the financial situation of Union Olimpija of Slovenia, which currently has a documented outstanding debt with three players, and therefore failed to meet the competition's registration requirements. The club has been granted a deadline of July 20, 2012 to settle these and any outstanding debts, and a second deadline of September 20, 2012, whereby if the club continues to garner debt with players, it shall be excluded from the Turkish Airlines Euroleague competition for the season and replaced by the next team according to the 2012-13 Euroleague Country Ranking, which would be the 18th position: 2011-12 French finalist Le Mans Sarthe Basket. The shareholders also approved the eight teams for the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds, whose winner advances to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season while the other seven teams will play in the Eurocup Regular Season. Changes in the 2012-13 Eurocup competition system that include eliminating the qualifying round, returning to two-game home-and-away semifinals and a single-game final were also approved by the shareholders.
The shareholders also heard and approved proposals aimed toward developing clubs professionally in the areas of financial transparency and game security. Agreement on Financial Fair Play guidelines adopted across both competitions are meant to assure better stability for the clubs and their sponsors, at the same time that the shareholders ratified the use of increased sanctions, up to and including permanent disqualification from the competitions, to avoid security concerns in the arenas. All members agreed to a zero-tolerance policy for both unsportsmanlike behavior and fan violence as a means of maintaining basketball’s status as a family-friendly sport. In addition to this, the 2013-14 Euroleague Country Ranking was approved, through which clubs will gain B Licenses for the 2013-14 Turkish Airlines Euroleague.
The shareholders also heard a review of the conclusions reached Tuesday at the Basketball Rules Summit that was part of the Euroleague Basketball Institute Technical Week. A panel of 13 experts from a variety of basketball professions held a two-day debate to find ways to make Turkish Airlines Euroleague and Eurocup games more spectacular, clean and fair. The panel proposed re-interpreting some rules and changing others in order to give players more freedom of movement and reduce or speed up the number of stoppages in a game. Those suggestions were consulted one day later with all participants at the annual Euroleague Basketball Head Coaches Meeting. The conclusions will now be shared by Euroleague Basketball with FIBA World, as will concerns raised by the shareholders about the need to find adequate insurance coverage, which is currently deemed insufficient, for players around the world with club contracts during national-team activities, including travel, practices, games and tournaments.
In a review of the just-completed 2011-12 season, the shareholders heard details of how the Turkish Airlines Euroleague's reach is expanding both in terms of audience and social impact. Last season marked the highest number of television partners in competition history, 71, whose broadcasts of Turkish Airlines Euroleague games reached 174 countries on all five continents. Audiences for the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Magazine, 32 half-hour shows seen in 31 countries on a weekly basis, topped 100 million in the 2011-12 season. The shareholders was also given a review of the current television agreements currently under negotiation and shown a surge in Euroleague.tv subscribers following new promotions and improvements such as multi-language options and higher broadcast quality.
The shareholders also heard how the new social responsibility program One Team, backed by additional sponsorship from Turkish Airlines, has taken root in the last few months with a training workshop, seven local team projects and a major event at the Final Four.
Finally, the shareholders looked ahead to the next Final Four at The O2 in London. Shareholders reasoned that the United Kingdom is a strategically important market for Euroleague Basketball, due to its commercial possibilities as well as the benefits of having the partnership with AEG grow. Euroleague Basketball directors have already held organizational meetings and are actively working on making the next edition of the Final Four better than previous editions.