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Dez

David Pick | Nr. 50


Machtkampf in der EuroLeague | David Pick erklärt, warum die Klubs das Vertrauen in CEO Jordi Bertomeu verloren haben

In November, 2021, a bomb dropped on European basketball. SportsBusiness.com: "Bertomeu to step down as EuroLeague CEO after six clubs voted to dismiss him." slobodenpecat.mk: "Bertomeu is leaving the EuroLeague after 22 years." Eurohoops.net: "EuroLeague club-shareholders voted to dismiss Jordi Bertomeu from the CEO position."

This sure caused a splash in Euroleague waters, but it came as no surprise to the clubs and insiders. It wasn't long ago in mid-October we learned that a meeting without Jordi took place in Barcelona and triggered long-term implications on the EuroLeague and its CEO. “There was no specific agenda about the future of the league," then reported Eurohoops. However, fast forward to the present and it's nothing short of chaos. Jordi, as we will learn more on below, was issued a one-way ticket out of the league he himself created. David Federman, Israeli shareholder of Maccabi Tel Aviv led the wave of pursuing new personnel to run the best basketball show outside the NBA. Jordi's sand clock was running out.

This sure caused a splash in Euroleague waters, but it came as no surprise to the clubs and insiders. It wasn't long ago in mid-October we learned that a meeting without Jordi took place in Barcelona and triggered long-term implications on the EuroLeague and its CEO. “There was no specific agenda about the future of the league," then reported Eurohoops. However, fast forward to the present and it's nothing short of chaos. Jordi, as we will learn more on below, was issued a one-way ticket out of the league he himself created. David Federman, Israeli shareholder of Maccabi Tel Aviv led the wave of pursuing new personnel to run the best basketball show outside the NBA. Jordi's sand clock was running out.

Τhe clubs' financial situation post-COVID era and the distribution of revenue became a huge concern. Prior to this, Bertomeu's wide range of companies scattered across Europe between Spain and Luxembourg, and the fact that no one really knows how much he pockets each month or who in the hell hired him to begin with?! Has raised red flags all across the board. November's information revealed that 11 clubs-shareholders voted in favor of or against the dismissal of Bertomeu from his current position as CEO of the competition. The result of the voting was 6-to-5 in favor of replacing the Spaniard. Most of the opposition teams to no surprise were, guess who? His amigos, the Spanish clubs (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Baskonia). The hidden truth behind Jordi's pending exit from the Euroleague unfolds here. Is it possible to dismiss Jordi and does the 6-to-5 voting against him actually hold any weight?

Apparently, Jordi's term as CEO is ending this summer, which means the end of an era in the Euroleague. The voting indicated the end of his mandate at the Euroleague helm. The six teams against Jordi's renewal are the following: CSKA Moscow, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, AX Armani Milano and Zalgiris Kaunas. Vs the defending supporters of the Spanish lawyer: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Baskonia, Fenerbahce and Anadolu Efes, whose stance on the subject changed back-and-forth several times. The 2021-2022 season will be Jordi's last, with the Final Four celebrating his grand exit. However, despite all that, he's been flexing and putting up a serious fight. According to certain clubs that came in communication with the CEO - there have been suggestions hinting there will be no EuroLeague without Bertomeu, and that he's adopted the following approach: If I go down, everyone goes down with me.

Multiple names of successors to Jordi have been proposed, but it's impossible to appoint a new chief before unloading the present commander. Jordi, ladies and gentlemen, has zero intentions of letting go of his baby. It's been noted by well informed sources that the clubs, in an attempt to save their league and brand, offered to the EuroLeague's CEO to step down respectfully, with all his glory, following the next Final Four in 2022. He declined. He was offered all financial benefits, a full pension plan, and legendary accolades. He declined!

The Spanish teams supported Jordi and thus voted in favor of his extension. Some EuroLeague clubs blame the generational relationship between Jordi and the Spanish basketball decision makers, aligning their interests, and shaking hands behind closed doors. Other teams want a new regime - a younger, more modern and hip basketball authority, while pushing out more of the “old heads” in the game. The word “Favoritism” has been used before. This is how Barcelona are able to play at the "Palau Blaugrana", seating just 7,500 spectators, which is not fit for such a decorated club. Apparently, there has been a dossier or memo traveling around between the clubs from a while ago, detailing how EuroCup Champions AS Monaco would host their EuroLeague games at "The Azur Arena" in Antibes, a multi-purpose indoor arena. Monaco's 2,500 seater home gym doesn't meet the standards of the EuroLeague. In fact, if you search the club's profile on Euroleague.net, you'll find their arena address is in fact "The Azur Arena" in Antibes while the club actually plays in Monaco, and it’s been voiced that there’s only one bathroom available between the two clubs - “home” and “visitors”.

Competitive sports can naturally bring out the best and worst in people. It's common for rival executives and coaches to talk down on opposing players and colleagues. It derives from jealousy and fear. Most Euroleague teams kept their safe distance from each other. The majority of them compete every summer for the services of the same players, causing detrimental tension and bitterness among clubs toward each other. While COVID-19 tore families apart, ruined our childrens' education, and striped thousands if not millions around the world of their livelihood, it surprisingly brought Euroleague teams closer together.

The Euroleague club's executives were "forced" to communicate with each other to bounce ideas off one another regarding the structure of payments to players and agents during COVID; how to market and advertise the team without ticket sales revenue, and many other obstacles that pop'd up. Suddenly, they learned that rumours and false information was being spread about them, hinting that Jordi used such tactics to "divide and conquer," according to one Euroleague Vice President. "We started talking with other clubs, sharing information, and learned that different things were said about us, wrong things, to the other party. We lost trust in each other at first, but we realised it's Jordi who ultimately lost our trust." Clubs started to ally together. CSKA recruited Milano and Anadolu Efes, while Maccabi scooped up both Greek giants Panathinaikos and Olympiacos. Fenerbahce was later able to talk Istanbul neighbor Anadolu Efes out of their stance.

You won't hear or see any public statement made by a club or an official on the Jordi matter until an agreement on his dismissal has been reached. It cannot go unnoticed how far Jordi has brought the EuroLeague brand, and all the great events and games he orchestrated throughout his two-decade tenure as CEO. The last straw that added more fuel to the fire was the NBA-FIBA-Europe conversations. Every once in a while an article drops about a potential collaboration between the NBA and EuroLeague teams. I'm never really sure how this is possible or under what terms it can be executed, but there has been interest from the NBA to brainstorm and kick off talks on the subject.

The NBA requested to meet with Jordi and the Euroleague A License clubs, but the request has been denied and pushed back to a later date until after Jordi's situation is resolved. EuroLeague clubs have learned that Jordi has been supposedly talking to the NBA without their consent, thus making clear to the NBA - WE WANT TO TALK - but conversations must engage without the reigning CEO. In fact, Euroleague clubs weren't informed of the ongoing discussions with the NBA or the proposed meeting until a Greek FIBA employee informed his EuroLeague colleagues in Athens: “Jordi is talking to the NBA without the clubs”. Their rage grew instantly. When confronted on the topic in a meeting with the clubs, Jordi innocently took a defensive mode, telling teams they beat him to the punch, and that he planned all along on cluing them in on all things NBA-Europe at the meeting. It didn't matter though, this wasn't the first straw for Jordi, it was the last. Their trust wasn't there anymore. It's only rainy days now, moving forward, except a storm will break out real soon.

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