After years of working on making the German Beko BBL one of the most prospering and financially sound leagues in Europe, BBL chief executive Jan Pommer has shifted his focus to the Euroleague with hopes of forcing clubs to adopt and adhere to stiff economic licensing conditions and procedures.
“We have preached for years that there must be a European licensing procedure orientated on what UEFA is doing with its Financial Fair Play plan. Basically we should follow the example of the everyday housewife of not spending more than you earn,” Pommer said at a media chat at the Beko BBL All-Star Game on Saturday in Ludwigsburg.
“You have to operate economically. And clubs have to be able to plan accordingly. I know this plan will not be popular with bigger teams like Panathinaikos, CSKA Moscow and other big clubs with big bosses at the top. But if we want the league to be played in a professional, lasting and solid manner then we have to move in that direction. And the bigger clubs also have to give in.”
Pommer took over as BBL CEO in April 2005 and in 2009 had his contract extended until 2015. He was a leading force in many of the reforms that have seen the BBL enjoy continual attendance increases and financial strength within the clubs despite years of financial strife elsewhere in the world.
The basis of the BBL’s success is solid, fiscally responsible measures. And now Pommer would like to bring those to Euroleague clubs.
“All told, you have to say it’s kind of a rewarding issue because now we can finally decide: Do we all really want to economize properly, yes or no? And you really have to have a certain vigor to say, nah, not really.”
Pommer is part of a Euroleague commission dealing with implementing elements of Financial Fair Play-like conditions and licensing procedures over the mid-term, meaning one or two years.
“The Euroleague has clearly recognized that it’s relevant and that it’s an important success control lever for the future,” said Pommer.
One problem Pommer recognized is that the Euroleague has been using a retrospective approach at looking at a team’s finances. While that offers the chance of gaining certain insight after the fact, it provides no chances of reviewing clubs and their finances in the current season – something that has been done in the German league for years.
“Of course it’s interesting to see what went wrong. But it’s more interesting to make sure that things cannot go wrong in the first place. That is an important issue,” said Pommer.
He hopes that the commission will have a set of regulations approved in 2012 to then present to the clubs for their approval.
“This is a very ungrateful job and we have to make sure we don’t approach it as wise guys,” he said.
“We are not trying to win a popularity contest. But I think it’s a very important step for the development of European club basketball if we can agree on uniform regulations and then put them into being.”
When asked if the Euroleague could unilaterally institute new regulations, Pommer answered: “Legally, yes, the Euroleague could implement them without discussing it with the teams. But they would never do that because it’s such a relevant issue and all the teams would have to adapt – save for the German and French teams. It wouldn’t work without the input from the clubs.”
But Pommer said the new regulations are “inevitable”.
“In my opinion it’s not a matter of if it will be instituted but rather when and how,” he said.
“It’s not about being overly correct. An entertainment industry like the Euroleague or the Beko BBL has to be certain that those teams competing will definitely be around until the very end. … That is a fundament concern of our league and it has to be a fundamental concern of the Euroleague. We are not doing this so that we can be the smart ass but rather because it’s urgently necessary for economic stability.”
Pommer said a two-step system is necessary – first a proactive prognosis procedure and then limiting certain investment possibilities and break-even rules.