Following a meeting this week between ULEB and FIBA representatives in Geneva – and looking ahead to the upcoming draws in the Euroleague and ULEB Cup – Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu on Wednesday clarified the ULEB’s plans for the upcoming 2004-05 season.

‘Our responsibility is to organize the best possible European club competitions, and for that reason our structures for next season will not change,’ Bertomeu said. ‘ULEB will continue organizing the Euroleague and the ULEB Cup throughout the 2004-05 season.’

Bertomeu assured fans, media and participating clubs in both competitions that they can expect the same high level of sports competition and organization management achieved in recent years. He also confirmed that the ULEB Cup will expand to 42 teams for 2004-05.

The expanded list of ULEB Cup participants, to be announced before the end of the week, has six more teams from five new countries as compared to last season. The ULEB Cup draw is scheduled for Tuesday, June 29 in Barcelona.

A day before that, Bertomeu said, the Euroleague Board will meet to decide which will be the 24th and final team to play in the Euroleague next season. That new team – a wild-card selection based on competitive, organizational and economic criteria – will join with the 23 others already confirmed at the Euroleague Draw on July 11 in Moscow, Russia.

FULL COMMENTS BY EUROLEAGUE CEO JORDI BERTOMEO

Meeting with FIBA World and FIBA Europe

‘Whenever a dialogue is reopened, you have to be optimistic and go into the conversations with a positive attitude. At the moment, the contacts we have had do not offer too much news: there are new points of agreement and old differences. I think that, so as not to confuse the fans, the media and the clubs, it is better not to make too many assessments and wait for next meetings.’

‘We must continue talking with FIBA World and FIBA Europe and, at the same time, reassert ourselves in our work, so as not to disappoint the clubs that have shown confidence in our model. Our responsibility is to organize the best possible European club competitions, and for that reason our structures for next season will not change: ULEB will continue organizing the Euroleague and the ULEB Cup throughout the 2004-05 season.’

Euroleague

‘At the moment, we know 23 of the 24 teams that will play the next edition of the Euroleague. After Hapoel Jerusalem’s withdrawal due to arena problems we have to resolve the concession of a wild card. The Euroleague Board, scheduled to meet on June 28, will have to take a decision which will not be easy considering that the number of teams interested in playing the Euroleague is quite large. Fortunately, the criteria in which the choice must be based are perfectly specified in the Euroleague constitution protocol.’

Bertomeu listed the four criteria governing the choice of a wild card team as follows: competitive results considered since the beginning of the Euroleague and including domestic leagues as well as in the Euroleague; fan attendance at both home and away games; arena characteristics; and the potential for TV coverage and TV income.

ULEB Cup

‘In the end, 42 teams will play the 2004-05 ULEB Cup, which means an increase of six teams and five countries from last season. We expect that we will be able to give the definitive list of teams within the next 24 hours. We have considered until the final moment the possibility of allowing a bigger expansion, up to 48 teams, but we believe that a gradual and measured increase is the best way to guarantee high levels of both sporting competition and organization. We appreciate the confidence shown by all the teams that wanted to play in the ULEB Cup and for the aforementioned reasons will not have a spot in the competition next season.’

For more details contact:

Vladimir Stankovic
Director Media relations Department

EUROLEAGUE BASKETBALL, S.L.
Palau Sant Jordi
Passeig Olímpic 5-7
08038 Barcelona
Phone: +34 93 327 84 27
Fax: +34 93 327 84 24
e-mail: vladimir.stankovic@euroleague.net