Oct- 01 - 2003

ULEB expand new ULEB Cup to 36 teams

The assembly of the Union of European Basketball Leagues (ULEB) met in Barcelona on Tuesday and made major decisions affecting the 2003-04 season and beyond. First, the assembly approved a new ULEB Cup format to include 36 teams from at least 16 different countries for 2003-04, with the same number of teams from a broader geographical group for 2004-05.
Four wild-card invitations to the ULEB Cup are to be made each season. At the same time, the ULEB announced a proposal to coordinate calendars such that the Euroleague will be played in full between opening day on November 5 and the title game of the Final Four on May 1. The ULEB Cup would start November 11 and hold its final game on April 13.
The calendar proposal will be presented to the Euroleague assembly in Istanbul on June 23.

The ULEB assembly met today in Barcelona and adopted the following agreements:

1. New Members
Admit the Lithuanian League as a new member of the ULEB.

The leagues have verified the difficulty of an agreement with FIBA-Europe following the new breakdown in negotiations decided at the FIBA assembly held in Seville. As a consequence of this situation, the leagues of the ULEB have decided to consolidate the competitions model initiated for the 2002-03 season, establishing a space of professional European clubs that will be managed by the ULEB and that under the current circumstances can be made up of a maximum number of 60 clubs, with which the Euroleague and the ULEB Cup will be organized.

3. ULEB Cup
The leagues have decided to inscribe 32 teams (plus 4 Wild Card teams) in the 2003-04 competition and to play that and the 2004-05 competition according to the following list:

COUNTRY 2003-04 2004-05
ITALY 4 Teams 3 Teams
SPAIN 4 Teams 3 Teams
GREECE 3 Teams 3 Teams
FRANCE 3 Teams 3 Teams
GERMANY 3 Teams 3 Teams
RUSSIA 2 Teams 2 Teams
BELGIUM 2 Teams 2 Teams
TURKEY 1 Team 1 Team
LITHUANIA 1 Team 1 Team
ENGLAND 1 Team 1 Team
POLAND 1 Team 1 Team
PORTUGAL 1 Team 1 Team
AUSTRIA - 1 Team
ISRAEL - 1 Team
WILD CARD 4 Teams 4 Teams
TOTAL 36 Teams 36 Teams

Keeping in mind the new structure of the Adriatic League starting in 2003-04, the possibility of maintaining 4 spots for that league in the ULEB Cup 2004-05 will be studied.

4. Inscription and Wild Cards
The period to solicit inscription will close definitively on June 16, even if considering the respective standings it may be necessary to wait for the end of some national championships for definitive standings and the awarding of the Wild Cards. The spots for the national competitions will be awarded according to the standing obtained in them. The decision to include Wild Cards is based on the petitions made to the ULEB by clubs who have no possibility of access to the ULEB Cup through their national competitions, and will be awarded according to the following criteria:

a) Sports results in international competitions.
b) Fulfilment of the requirements stipulated in the ULEB Cup Regulations.
c) Availability of a minimum number of two first class hotels within the city area where the arena is placed.
d) Airport with international flights.
e) TV coverage of the team's home games.

5. System of Play and Calendar

5.1. System of Play
* 6 groups of 6 six teams each. Round-robin competition.
* The top 2 teams from each group and the best 4 teams located in the 3 th place will move onto the next eliminatory phase.
* 1/8 (2 games. Home and away).
* 1/4 (2 games. Home and away).
* 1/2 (2 games. Home and away).
* Final (single game).

5.2. Calendar

Eurolegue starts: November 5th,
2003 ULEB CUP starts: November 11th,
2003 ULEB CUP regular season ends: January 27th, 2004
ULEB CUP elimination rounds start: February 10th, 2004
Euroleague regular season ends: February 19th, 2004
Euroleague Top 16 starts: March 3rd, 2004
Euroleague Top 16 ends: April 8st, 2004
ULEB CUP Final: April 13th, 2004
Euroleague Final Four: April 29th-May 1st 2004

6. Coordination of Calendars

The guidelines for the coordination of calendars in Europe are explained as follows:

· Beginning of October: national competitions begin.
· Beginning of November: the Euroleague begins.
· The Euroleague stops its competition during 2 weeks coinciding with the Christmas holidays.
· The Euroleague stops during one week between the Regular Season and the Top 16. In this period the national leagues hold their Cup competition.
· The Euroleague stops during 2 or 3 weeks after the Top 16. In this period the final of the ULEB Cup is held.
· The Final Four is held around May 1st.
· The national competitions may be played until the third week of June, inclusive.