By Johnny Askounis/ [email protected]
Basketball Champions League CEO Patrick Comninos joined the BCL Coast To Coast Podcast to discuss many topics, including the preparations for the 2021-22 season.
“The process is quite clear. We have communicated with all the national federations and national leagues that organize competitions in their home countries,” he said explaining the plan for the next season, “Each federation was informed on the number of teams it can register into our competition and the stage of the competition these teams will enter. This is the outcome of the process we have put in place since the first day of the competition, giving value to the results on the court. Therefore, we have the access list, the country ranking that determines how countries and leagues are positioned in our competition.”
The lineup for next year will be revealed within the next weeks.
“We have an overwhelming majority of teams that have already played in the Basketball Champions League in the past. That tells us two things. These teams are consistently finishing among the top positions in their domestic competition. Secondly, they enjoy the collaboration, and the level of service and competitiveness that is brought by the Basketball Champions League,” said Comninos, “We will conclude this process at the end of the month when the board on the last week of June will validate the participation for next season. And then we will start the usual preparations with the draw in early July and all the relevant planning for the next season.”
The upcoming season will be the sixth of FIBA’s premier European club competition. Contrary to the previous five closing stages, the next championship-crowning event may move to a neutral venue, the BCL CEO confirmed.
“It’s not automatic that fans will run to the stadium or to the arena if the teams are not the most popular or most attractive ones in some other sports property. We acknowledge this. The reason we opted for the Final Four to be held at the ground of one of the participating clubs was exactly that. It allowed us to work very closely with the club and the fans, and to safeguard a level of organization, commitment, and fan attendance that was necessary for us as we build our competition,” he pointed out, “The only way to safeguard that we can take the BCL Final Four, our pinnacle event, to the next level is to anticipate and plan the hosting well in advance. That’s something we are exploring. We are having discussions with a number of potential hosts, in this case, of course, it’s no longer the club that is the host, but it’s more the league, the federation, the arena, and other entities. We need to find the most suitable candidate for us forwarding in that direction. We hope that we can soon announce the host of the Final Four 2022.”
The next season will once again feature 32 teams in the Regular Season, split into eight groups. The top team of each group will directly advance to the Round of 16, while the second and third teams of each group will battle for the eight remaining spots through a best-of-three play-in series. The Round of 16 will be a group stage for the second year in a row, but the quarterfinal playoffs series and the Final Four will follow instead of the Final Eight, which concluded the two previous seasons.
“We have incorporated even more exciting games, in the sense by truly rewarding the group winners with direct participation to the Top 16. But then, we wanted to make the fight for the second and third place equally exciting,” said Comninos regarding the format changes, “Until the very last Gameday, every club will have a chance to continue to play after Christmas.”
Listen to the Coast To Coast Podcast Episode 32: BCL CEO Patrick Comninos.