It’s not very good practice to change rules mid-way a basketball year, but the clubs of the Beko BBL have asked their league CEO Jan Pommer to figure out a way around a much-feared relegation rule in Germany’s top flight.
The case is as follows:
Shortly before Christmas, LTi Giessen 46ers filed initial bankruptcy papers and have since set an internal club deadline of raising 350,000 euros by the end of January to save the season. If Giessen, which was granted a wild card for the 2009-10 and 2012-13 seasons, cannot gather the funds and are forced to go through with the insolvency, Beko BBL rules state that their results for the entire season will be stricken from the league – as though they would have never played. Also in those regulations – passed by the clubs in 2009 – states that two other teams will be relegated to the second division ProA.
That means if Giessen do in fact go bankrupt, the 17th and 16th placed teams would get the drop – an idea which has nearly half the Beko BBL shaking in their collective boots. Four games separate 17th placed Neckar RIESEN Ludwigsburg at 5-14 and eighth placed Eisbären Bremerhaven at 9-9 after 18/19 games of the 34-game regular season.
And the BBL clubs met before the All-Star Game in Nuremberg to discuss the matter, expressing to league CEO Jan Pommer their fears and that they would like this rule changed – for this season.
“We underlined that these are the rules for the season. And these are the valid rules and we will adhere to these rules. Changing tracks while you are travelling in this case is not legally possible. I made it clear to the teams, but they did not agree,” said Pommer at a media meeting at the All-Star Game.
“The clubs agreed amongst themselves and determined that this still hypothetical case is not desired. And they gave me the task to find a way around this rule, legally and creatively. I love challenges. But this is not the smallest challenge.”
Pommer added: “This rule is valid and the season will be carried out and finished under this regulation. I don’t know yet what we, or I, will come up with. But I accept the challenge.”
The league boss said he was disappointed that the clubs are not willing to adhere to rules that they approved just a couple of years.
“We have to adhere to the rules. We have done that in a lot of other areas over the years – with the foreigners’ quota for example.”
The clubs told Pommer they would like Pommer to present them a possible solution to the problem the next time they all come together at the Top Four in Berlin on March 23-24.
“Maybe we will change it. But at the moment, I cannot say how,” said Pommer.
The BBL CEO said that Giessen have already come up with 200,000 euros of the necessary 350,000 euros. The league must still approve the club’s financial situation for them to remain in the league, but with such a situation brewing, it seems almost impossible that the league wouldn’t give the okay to the team.
The club on Tuesday posted a bank account on their website where fans, sponsors and interested parties could donate money to the club’s efforts – with the money only going to the club if the total amount is reached. The needed figure on the club’s site is 280,000 euros.
To save money, they released stars Jasmin Perkovic and Jeff Bonds since January 12.