Markus Studer: “Basketball Champions League is about bringing coherence, transparency and unity to European club competitions”

Markus Studer, Chairman of new established FIBA competition in Europe, Basketball Champions League explained his vision and what BCL can bring to European Basketball next years. His interview published today (17/4) at newspaper “Kathimerini” in Greece.

You are coming from a very successful presence at UEFA Champions League. What can you bring to this new FIBA competition and what is your personal target for Basketball Champions League?

It’s not about what I can bring to the Basketball Champions League that is important: it is what the Basketball Champions League can bring to European Basketball. The objective of this new competition is clear: create a sound base for the future growth of European basketball while creating an exciting competition system that protects and reinforce the domestic leagues. We have developed a model that is very attractive and based on the sporting merits of domestic leagues. This is a joint effort with European leagues, clubs and National Federations. It’s great to have all basketball stakeholder working together to develop the best model for everybody.

There is no doubt UEFA Champions League is the best competition for Clubs in the planet. What were the main reasons that become such a successful competition beyond money?

Football is a unique sport that has the incredible capacity to generate the interest of the whole planet. They are several reasons that made the UEFA Champions League such a successful competition. The chance given to each Champion of its domestic league to participate: all clubs in Europe are motivated to perform in their league and are pushed to the top. The regular and fixed times of the games, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays evenings, has also been crucial: they help the media to schedule the games and the fans know exactly when they will see the games. The media exposure helped the competition to grow… And of course, the presence of the best players of the world is also fundamental.

There are still undecided teams in Europe about their European future. Do you believe that during Launch Ceremony in Paris FIBA send the right messages for the teams to choose Champions League than Eurocup?

We are convinced that the Basketball Champions League will be a premium product. The Basketball Champions League is a lot more than just a competition : This project is about bringing coherence, transparency and unity to European club competitions, while providing a sound business model for all stakeholders, not only for elite clubs. It promotes sporting results and openness of competition and not only protect the domestic leagues, but also add value to them. Ultimately, it will also nurture new European talents.

As the Chairman of Basketball Champions League can you advice the teams how they will take advantage of their participation in order to increase their value on and off the court?

Each market is different, so it’s difficult to give advices that apply to all the clubs. We are currently working with my colleagues of the Board to create the best conditions possible for those participating clubs. I think the competition system is really appealing: in the regular season, you have to fight to finish in the top four places of your group. But places five and six are also bringing certain benefits, because they allow you to join the FIBA Europe Cup. 
Since it’s a new competition, we have to make an extra effort to invest in the product, especially in the marketing and promotion.

Do you find any similarities between new Basketball Champions League and UEFA Champions League at its first years, at ‘90s?

There are clearly two important similarities: both competitions are based on sporting merits and are true European club competitions.

What is your impressions from representatives of Greek Basketball through this whole process?

We are extremely happy to see the involvement of the Greek Federation and particularly the Greek League. They have understood perfectly the importance of the reform of the European club competitions and they are helping us a lot with valuable inputs. I’m very pleased to have Georgios Chalvatzakis in the board of the Basketball Champions League. His experience is a strong asset for the project.

The owner of Aris BC, Mr. Nikos Laskaris made a speech during Launch Ceremony. What is your impressions about him, considering his presence in the team from Thessaloniki changed its status quo?

Mr. Laskaris’s speech was brilliant: his thoughts are fully aligned with the principles that govern the Basketball Champions League. The clear and transparent governance with 10 Leagues involved in the decision-making process, the sporting criteria based on the national championships allowing new investors to enter basketball and a wider base of fans to follow their teams, and also the nurturing of new talents: all those are key elements he mentioned are crucial for the Basketball Champions League. It’s really positive for basketball to see some leaders sharing our philosophy.

What will you consider as success for the new competition, one year later?

A fair and competitive competition with great games in front of full arenas. At the end, the fans, the clubs and the partners have to be happy… If that’s the case, I will be happy.

What is your personal vision for the Basketball Champions League?

The Basketball Champions League is the right way forward for the development and growth of the sport across Europe. We are fully committed on offering the best competitions possible for the European basketball family and I’m convinced that one day, the Basketball Champions League will be the best competition in Europe, truly Pan-European and based on sporting criteria.

Do you believe there is still place, time and desire to find a solution with Euroleague?

FIBA is open to hold productive talks and conversations. We made concrete proposals last summer, including a true partnership with clubs and Euroleague. Regrettably, these were rejected and we are still waiting for Euroleague’s proposals on how to resolve the situation and work together harmoniously.

The biggest difference between FIBA and Euroleague is — speaking for myself — the sporting criteria. Do you believe professional teams are ready to follow those fundamental principles, putting financial issues into a second role? Many people believe that the success of Champions League depends on which teams finally choose this competition instead of Eurocup. Do you think only the teams will make difference quality wise to Champions League?

The sporting criteria is key for basketball: it will not only protect the national leagues, but will dramatically increase their value and help the growth of our sport. But we are not idealists and the financial part should not be neglected: we want to provide a sound business models for all stakeholders, not only elite clubs. The financial offer of BCL far exceeds that made by Euroleague for the Eurocup.

The Basketball Champions League guarantees a minimum of €4.5 million to be distributed to participating clubs for the first season. Every club will receive a minimum of €100,000 as financial support as well as funds towards the TV production costs of its home games. There are also increased payments, depending on sports performance. In fact, the Basketball Champions League winner stands to bring home a minimum of €500,000.

We are convinced that the numbers are great for a first season and we are adamant that as the competition progresses the financials will drastically improve.