Preparations for the 2020-21 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season and growing together into the future were the themes on Tuesday as the EuroLeague Player Representatives from the competition's teams and Euroleague Basketball executives held another of their annual meetings.
Part of the EB Institute's Annual Workshops with club professionals of every category, the annual players meeting, in its seventh season, was held virtually for the first time.
To start, the players received a detailed overview of how the competition is organized and managed, including financial information on club and league revenues and expenses, as well as details of how market-generated club revenues are devoted to player salaries.
Next, the meeting focused on the upcoming season and how the COVID-19 global pandemic could affect the operations of the competition.
"It's extremely important within our stakeholders group to have a common goal. It will probably not be a perfect season, it will be a different one, but above all we must play," Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball President & CEO, said. "We know that the situation can change, can evolve, but we are very confident that we will soon see what is typical of our league, arenas full of passionate fans enjoying your game."
Estimates of the impact of the pandemic on club budgets were shared and led to discussion of measures being put into place to mitigate any negative effects. Among those measures are club pandemic response guidelines meant to help fans feel safe and welcome to return when permitted to do so, as well as health and safety protocols to protect the players and all other game participants.
"We are now and will continue monitoring the development of COVID-19 around Europe," Eduard J. Scott, Euroleague Basketball Chief Operations Officer, said. "Minimum standards may increase if needed, but what we are hoping is that over time we can relax and reduce these measures and go back to what we all consider as normal life."
The players also heard about special regulations being put in place for this season to maintain, to the maximum extent possible, the competition's commitments with fans, club corporate partners, media rights partners and league corporate partners. Looking ahead, the players heard about pre-COVID goals of increasing revenues, further developing fan bases in strategic markets, increasing stability through a higher number of licensed teams, and implementation of brand and digitalization strategies, among others.
Next came an update on the relationship between EB and the EuroLeague Players Association (ELPA), building on previous agreements between the two. They were also updated on conversations between EB and the ELPA aimed at bringing clarity in advance to potential adjustments to the competition and its revenues, now or in the future, due to force majeure events such as COVID-19. League executives shared updates on the ongoing negotiations between EB and ELPA toward the mutual goal of signing a European Framework Agreement together in the near future.
The players heard details from Dr. Ignacio Muro, Euroleague Basketball Medical Officer, of the organization's efforts to constantly maximize the resources devoted to assuring the health and wellbeing of the players, as well as coaches, referees, club and league staff. Those efforts include the confidential collection of team injury reports intended to help develop injury prevention and recovery guidelines, diagnostic protocols, and recommendations for best practices in decision-making in the treatment of injury and illness.
The players were briefed on a new, five-year business strategy devised, through extensive research that included surveys and interviews with the players themselves, to define the EuroLeague's market position for the future. The long-term analysis confirmed key EuroLeague attributes like authenticity, cultural impact, creativity and pioneering spirit which inform new vision, mission and values statements that center on the tenacity, humanity, leadership, curiosity and passion that distinguish the EuroLeague in the sports market.
"It's very important for us that you have a clear understanding of this strategy and we hope it reflects your thoughts and feelings, which is why we spoke with you and your teammates," Alex Ferrer Kristjansson, Euroleague Basketball Marketing & Communications Senior Director said. "It's very important that you are an active party in executing all this because your voices resonate and influence people the most."
Finally, the players hooked into a simultaneous virtual session of their club colleagues involved in One Team, the corporate social responsibility program of Euroleague Basketball, for that group's annual workshop. At each club, players function as One Team Ambassadors, and one of them, Luigi Datome of AX Armani Exchange Milan, spoke about his experiences with One Team and its effect on him.
"Everyone is basically focused on their own career or life, so it's good to see these values in the EuroLeague, that we are all the same, One Team," Datome said. "And, of course, the project behind it that helps the communities we are part of. It's like a wakeup call and a window open to a part of our society that exists. Usually, we say we do this for them, but actually we do it for ourselves, because I feel better after each One Team session. It's really a fantastic experience and a fantastic project that I would love to keep on being involved with."