The tipoff to the 2020-21 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season began this week as professionals in business, ticketing and communications from clubs across the continent met virtually to map out strategies to bring back Europe's most elite basketball stronger than ever to the fans.
The desire to respond to the incompletion of the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic by planning creative and innovative solutions for all stakeholders was evident in the elevated participation by multiple executives from many clubs in each of three meetings on Wednesday and Thursday.
The EuroLeague Business Area Directors Meeting on Wednesday was a three-hour outline of initiatives designed to reignite the means for clubs to recover from the incomplete season and propel themselves and the league into a new and exciting future.
"I want to emphasize how important it is to gather together in these challenging times, how important it is to try to help each other, help the league, help the clubs to overcome the difficulties that we are facing," Jordi Bertomeu, President and CEO of Euroleague Basketball, told the business area directors. "But it's no less important to understand the solutions to the problems we have in front of us, in difficult times, have never been solved individually or by looking back to the past. This is important to remember. Today once again, we will share information, we will have a constructive dialogue and we will try to be creative. But as always, we have to take responsibility for our performance. To have a league like the EuroLeague has one main purpose: the ability to define and reach good common policies that help the growth of the group."
That future will include such steps forward as a Digital Transformation Fund for the clubs to tap in order to engage better and more closely with fans, as well as Pandemic Response Guidelines that specify how Euroleague Basketball and the clubs can overcome the new set of challenges brought on by the pandemic so as to provide a safe and fun environment when doors eventually open for tens of thousands of fans who enjoy EuroLeague games live every week.
A centerpiece of the Business Area Directors meeting was the review of a new, five-year business strategy devised by Euroleague Basketball and its joint-venture partner, IMG, following extensive market research conducted by Deloitte Sports Business Group, to define the EuroLeague's market position for the future. The long-term analysis confirmed that the EuroLeague is impressing fans and stakeholders alike with its authenticity, cultural impact, creativity and pioneering spirit. Those attributes are key elements in new statements of the vision, mission and values that center on the tenacity, humanity, leadership, curiosity and passion that are poised to distinguish the EuroLeague in the sports market of the next decade.
Thursday brought the turns of club media and ticketing directors during separate video-conferences in which they broke down with EuroLeague executives the challenges and solutions of meeting the new business strategy's goals in each of their specialties.
In the morning, the EuroLeague Media Directors Meeting focused on the utmost importance of engagement with fans now and as the action resumes next season through content development that brings players and teams even closer to their loyal supporters. A review of the shortened 2019-20 season revealed higher audiences rates than ever for the EuroLeague across all communications and social media channels, a trend that the league and clubs plan to feed with fresh ideas across multiple platforms. The conversation continued with alternative scenarios to allow the media to cover games when they restart in the fall, but also to keep giving them access to the players and coaches in the lead-up to the new season.
Thursday evening's Ticketing Directors Meeting brought about several lively discussions about how different teams are preparing for the 2020-21 season despite the uncertainty of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Enrique Garcia, the business venue director at the AS Roma football club, was a guest for the first part of the meeting. He relayed the different strategies he is employing in these times, including the switch to a completely paperless ticketing system. The second half of the meeting was dedicated to dealing with COVID-19 repercussions and communicating with fans and season-ticket holders, with Marshall Glickman, G2 Strategic CEO, helping to navigate the discussion whilst comparing North American and European practices in the field.
The EB Insitute Annual Workshops continue on Friday with the first meeting to date of all EuroLeague team doctors, then resume next week with the head coaches of both the EuroLeague and the 7DAYS EuroCup convening in institutional sessions of their own as well as sit-downs with the Euroleague Basketball officiating department.