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EuroLeague clubs hit back after Giannakopoulos ‘defamations’

Getty ImagesTen of the 11 licensed EuroLeague Basketball clubs have hit back at Panathinaikos Athens owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos (pictured) after the Greek businessman made what they call ‘repeated grave and unfounded defamations’ relating to the competition’s commercial viability. Commenting in a joint statement, the group of clubs defended the EuroLeague’s business model and said they would take ‘any action that they deem necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of their collective and individual properties’ in the wake of Giannakopoulos’ decision to withdraw Panathinaikos from the competition due to what he sees as a failure to deliver on revenue projections. In a recent letter addressed to EuroLeague Basketball chief executive Jordi Bertomeu, Panathinaikos president Manos Papadopoulos notified the competition of the club’s intention to terminate their ten-year contract and transfer their license and shares in the EuroLeague as soon as possible. Papadopoulos cited the fact that ‘there has been neither useful exploitation, nor increase in the revenues of the EuroLeague product’ since organisers revamped Europe’s elite club basketball competition as part of a joint venture signed with IMG in late 2015. European sport’s comeback: When, how and what are the financial implications?That revamp, which was implemented ahead of the 2016/17 season, saw the EuroLeague introduce a new round-robin format and downsize from 24 to 18 teams, with 11 clubs, including Panathinaikos, given permanent berths and a stake in the business. Giannakopoulos, who recently put Panathinaikos up for sale for €25 million (US$27.

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