Until 2026, there is no question of expanding the EuroLeague to Dubai, or expanding their teams from 18 to 20. What about CSKA and Maccabi who will play behind closed doors in Belgrade and the role of Christos Christodoulou, but also of Kostas Rigas who returned after seven years.
The surrounding atmosphere for an increase of the EuroLeague teams from 18 to 20 and even from the next season (2024-25) was based on the information that London and Paris would become – at some point – two stations of the competition also agreed. In any rumour, however, the organization itself put a brake through the mouth of the CEO, Paulius Motiegiounass. The Lithuanian agent claimed that there is no question of expansion and apparently until 2026 things will remain as they are.
Then expires the ten-year deal he had made before the 2015-16 season with IMG, when he was urgently looking for financial support to avoid the pressure of FIBA. This deal, which generated 630 million euros for the organization (more than half of which was allocated to the clubs) was the starting point for the evolution of the EuroLeague into the company of 13 shareholders.
Any discussions about expanding the organization go backwards. The same applies to the famous proposal of the sheikhs from Dubai, despite the recent statements of Marko Pesic, according to which “Euroleague should look more carefully at this prospect”. It seems reasonable if they are true that his father is intended to be the head coach of the team that is supposed to be created in Dubai.
In essence, however, there is no question of changing the data. Neither will the teams become 20, nor will they travel all the way to Dubai to play with a new club that will be built specifically to participate in the Euroleague.
CSKA and Maccabi behind closed doors
There are, after all, two important issues that have arisen for non-competitive reasons. The absence of CSKA Moscow, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, remains and the return of the Russian team does not seem visible. And, of course, it is not going to happen at the initiative of the EuroLeague. Similar moves by the international sports authorities should be preceded, so that the way is opened for basketball as well.
The paradox, of course, in the whole story is that CSKA remains a key shareholder in the company, has a say and a vote in any decisions made for the championship itself.
CSKA’s absence reduces the EuroLeague’s prestige more than its revenue, as Russia’s market for TV rights and sponsorships remains low. It is, however, a blow to the general appeal of basketball and the interest of rich Russian clubs who spent several million dollars in search of good coaches and even better basketball players.
Another war, this one in Gaza, may have kept Maccabi in the EuroLeague, but it creates an additional problem for the competition. In fact, if there are complications or continuity of operations for a long period of time, Maccabi may find itself in a very difficult position. He is already facing a state of emergency as he has left Tel Aviv and is now based in Belgrade.
In the Alexander Nikolic Arena (Hala Pioneer, that is) the Israeli team will play behind closed doors today, as already announced. Unexpectedly, the same will happen with the match against Olympiakos, next Tuesday. Maccabi have managed to keep their entire roster, but if the situation in Gaza worsens, then there will be other issues ahead of the new season…
Both Christodoulou and Rigas
At the same time, the new era in EuroLeague refereeing has already begun. Danny Ierethuelo is known to be the new head of refereeing in the event. By his side since the start of the season is Christos Christodoulou, who is in charge of the definitions in the Eurocup, while also acting as an observer of the EuroLeague matches.
But also an old acquaintance, Kostas Rigas, in charge of refereeing in the first 15 years of the event, The veteran refereeing professor was invited to this year’s annual referees’ seminar which took place at the end of August in Ljubljana. After seven years he attended a EuroLeague event and as the ice was broken, he accepted Ierethuelo’s proposal for a new partnership. He has already assumed the role of evaluator and the detection of new referees from specific countries, among them Greece. The “fleet” of referees of the top competition needs upgrading as well as renewal.
We remind you that Greek refereeing is currently represented in the EuroLeague by three referees: Tsarouha, Pitsilkas and Foufis. Unless unforeseen, one, maybe even two, referees from our country will participate in the two events (Euroleague-Eurocup) in place of Ilias Koromilas who hung up his whistle.