The League’s honorary president shared his thoughts following the 2019 League Board.
On last season
We briefly recapped our 10th anniversary season with the Board. Everyone noted that there were numerous surprises, especially during the regular season. Two foreign teams that made the playoffs, Astana and Kalev, were a pleasant surprise. They played exciting, high-scoring basketball. The fact that two foreign clubs made the playoffs once again demonstrates that the League needs foreign teams. Despite small budgets, they are a good example for Russian teams.
The UNICS – PARMA game also comes to mind. By losing at home to Perm, as I see it, Kazan missed out on a EuroLeague berth and first place in the VTB League regular season.
The VTB League’s attendance increased by 13%. With that, I want to note that we count the number of tickets sold, not the number of spectators at the arena. That’s a big difference. PARMA, Zenit and Loko received bonuses for marketing this season.
On prize money and fines
The League has the following rules: The higher a team’s place in the regular season, the more prize money it receives. For that reason, CSKA and Khimki should receive the most prize money. But CSKA was fined repeatedly during the season for violating our exclusive bookmaker’s partnership. CSKA was also found guilty for a 30-minute broadcasting failure during a game vs. Astana. Khimki, meanwhile, received numerous fines for inappropriate comments by the wives of several players. In addition, Moscow Region was fined for failing to observe safety measures during the finals vs. CSKA, when the Khimki locker room was robbed. That is simply unacceptable. There have been, are and will be big fines for that.
At the same time, there are clubs which did not receive a single fine during the season: Enisey, Zielona Gora, Astana and Tsmoki-Minsk. The result is a paradox: Clubs with big budgets pay fines and clubs with small budgets follow the regulations and spend money wisely.
Sometimes clubs complain that the electricity, internet or technical equipment is not working at an arena. I recommend that those clubs establish a contract making the arenas responsible for such fines.
On the new playoff format
The playoff format is changing. Each series, including the finals, will feature a best-of-three format, played 1-1-1. Because of the Tokyo Olympics, FIBA asked every basketball league in the world to conclude by June 12 and no later. That’s why we had to compact the schedule.
On new clubs
The regulations clearly state what a club must do to have its application reviewed by the League. First of all, that’s a 5,000-seat arena and minimum budget of five million euros. As of today, there are no candidates that meet those requirements.
On the League’s environmental initiatives and Ecoball
Since 2017, the VTB United League has conducted the #BASKETBOTTLE campaign with the support of SIBUR. This includes not only recycling at arenas, but also significant efforts to educate the public on waste management. The Continental Hockey League has also joined us this year. Over two and a half years, more than 15 tons of plastic bottles have been collected. I hope the Ecoball won’t be the only example of using recycled materials in professional sports and that other Leagues and federations will follow our lead.