During its Presidents meeting this morning at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Zaventem the Pro Basketball League has defined the outlines for the 2020-2021 sporting season. Focal point is the health of all stakeholders paired with a competition with a proper preparation period which can be organized for the fans under the best conditions.
In a possible transition year towards a BeNeLeague, the clubs have decided to maintain the formula that was introduced last season. The starting date has been set for 3 October 2020 with a possibility to start the season until 7 November with the same modalities, should a later start seem necessary.
This means that the EuroMillions Basketball League regular season will once again be completed in 2 competition rounds. The first will be played in 2 groups with the teams being divided based on the 2019-2020 season final standings.
Group A will feature clubs 1-3-5-7-9 (OOS-ANT-CHA-MEC-BRU), while clubs 2-4-6-8-10 (MON-LIM-LEU-AAL-LIE) will do battle in group B. Each team will play each other once at home and on the road within the same group.
In the second competition round all PBL clubs face each other once at home and on the road. Points from the first competition round will be maintained to start the second.
The playoffs will start on 19 May 2021 and end at the request of FIBA on 15 June 2021 at the latest. 8 clubs qualify for the playoffs with the quarterfinals and the semifinals being played in a best of 3 format and the final in a best of 5 series.
“By using the same formula, we offer a known concept which furthermore gives us the flexibility to respond to unforeseen circumstances should this prove necessary”, states general manager Wim Van de Keere. “Moreover this formula allows us to know all game dates at the start of the season, which remains an important factor in terms of planning for clubs, fans, partners and media”.
As far as the Belgian Cup is concerned, PBL is currently in talks with Basketball Belgium to see if an evolution towards a group format is feasible with a mix of EuroMillions Basketball League clubs and Top Division Men clubs.
The Belgian Cup final will be played on 21 March 2021 while the Orange All Star Game is planned on 10 April 2021. The Belgian Basketball Awards will be slotted on 15 May 2021.
Two clubs are assured of a Basketball Champions League berth. FILOU Oostende automatically qualified for the regular season, while Belfius Mons-Hainaut has to survive one qualifying round in order to secure its spot in the regular season. For Telenet Giants Antwerp one of 4 wildcards that are issued annually by the BCL is applied for.
FANS and MEDIA
Being able to host as many fans as possible at games is of the utmost importance. “Our clubs were unanimous in expressing their desire not to play behind closed doors as this is financially unsustainable”, says PBL president Arthur Goethals. “The health of all stakeholders of course is paramount. We are taking into account possible future restrictions, but hosting 2.000 spectators appears to be a minimum. After the shortened 19-20 season being able to offer more games to fans by way of a potential group format in the Belgian Cup would be a good thing.”
Access to the streaming platform embltv (www.embl.tv) will remain free for the 2020-2021 season. After the initial season PBL aims to up the quality of the streams by providing more stable resolution and connections and eventually even adding commentary to the games. In addition the league wants to continue to focus on the production of highlights and short digital content on social media.
“We are entering the final season of our deal with our private media partners Proximus, Telenet and VOO and public channels VRT and RTBF. The introduction of TV games on Friday evening last season proved profitable and we want to continue along that path. Digital is undoubtedly gaining in importance and should be developed further, but we also want to continue to focus on the production of a high-quality TV product”, adds Wim Van de Keere. “Sunday afternoons on Sporza as well as the visibility for our sport on the public channels remains a crucial axis in our media strategy.”
The corona pandemic forced the focus to shift momentarily, but the PBL and its clubs remain determined to evolve towards a definitive green light for the BeNeLeague in 2020’s last trimester. Working groups looking to develop the most important aspects of the collaboration from a sporting, commercial and financial point of view will be getting to it in the near future. Also in terms of bylaws, such as license terms, both competitions will have to grow towards each other and finally an efficient governance model, operational functioning included, will need to be installed.
President Arthur Goethals adds: “The slight delay that occurred, will not stop us to handle the job in a fundamentally sound way together with our clubs so all parties involved will have a very clear view on the project that we are looking to complete together. Hypercube gives us an external partner that has experience in these types of processes allowing it to guide both leagues perfectly.”
The meeting gave a unanimous green light to president Arthur Goethals and his management team (composed of representatives from Mons, Brussels, Limburg and the general manager) to continue to supervise the upcoming crucial year and to prepare the succession.
Arthur Goethals, PBL president: “Solidarity and flexibility with all stakeholders will be of prime importance next season. Professional sports is a complex set interested parties such as clubs, players, fans, partners and media to service providers in terms of communication and catering. This past period we were fortunate to be able to count a lot of understanding and solidarity from a lot of stakeholders and we are very grateful to them for that. In the future as well all parties will need to show understanding and especially a sense of realism in order to accompany the restart so our beloved sport can flourish once again. While the final decision surrounding the restart remains with the government, we believe that we have taken a first step along with our clubs in that process today. I wish to thank the clubs for their confidence and look forward to continuing the work.”