• Finalizado
    FINAL
    2015-09-12
    Argentina 71
    Venezuela 76
  • Finalizado
    BRONCE
    2015-09-12
    Mexico 86
    Canada 87
  • Finalizado
    SEMIFINAL
    2015-09-11
    Argentina 78
    Mexico 70
  • Finalizado
    SEMIFINAL
    2015-09-11
    Canada 78
    Venezuela 79
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-09
    Mexico 95
    Argentina 83
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-09
    Uruguay 69
    Puerto Rico 80
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-09
    Dominicana 103
    Canada 120
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-09
    Panama 62
    Venezuela 75
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-08
    Mexico 73
    Canada 94
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-08
    Panama 71
    Puerto Rico 78
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-08
    Venezuela 75
    Uruguay 77
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-08
    Argentina 92
    Dominicana 84

ACB: Chronicle of a Crisis Foretold


The crisis of Spanish basketball at club level has been due to many factors, and the main cause, what a paradox, was the very high threshold in ACB's economical level, which was achieved at a very high cost.

Let's do a little history. Between the second half of the 80s (the so-called "Turning Point") and the second half of the 90s, the FIBA paradigm was very different. The Italian LEGA (at that time, splitted down into two categories, A-1 and A-2) had the best technical level, the Greek A-1 Ethniki was the best paid (with salaries of more than a million dollars per year, with a peak at 2.5 million when Dominique Wilkins played with Panathinaikos in 1995-96), and the Spanish ACB the best infrastructure, although they tried to emulate his Italian counterpart in some aspects of their internal organization. The three competitions were those who monopolized the best foreign players, and especially, the so-called NBA "discards".

The opening of markets that represented the European Union in terms of sport we must add the NBA need to gain ground in recruiting players. Gonzalo Vazquez, a well-known Spanish journalist, in his note "NBA: Decalogue of an SOS", he explained in a very clear way the transformation that NBA had to do after the second retirement of Michael Jordan (1997-98), through which it channeled the most of the league's marketing efforts; the Draft's final expansion, transformed through the years from being a mere university draw into a gigantic player market which relies in its logic; and the 1998-99 lockout, catharsis of a disproportioned wage scale system that franchises couldn't sustain any longer. The FIBA basketball was gradually increasing (up to be even) in technical level and the NBA was very aware to this process.

The ACB took advantage of this situation, through a substantial improvement in television contracts, and sponsors who also injected huge amounts of money to the clubs, with so little control that it didn't correspond with the real economy. The Spanish league, that always stood out for its performance management model, artificially increased its level up to the point that in the "lockout" period between November 1998 and February 1999, the Spanish top-level flight was considered the best in the planet. Under the same framework they created the current Euroleague, a FIBA-independent club competition which prioritizes economic merit on sporting merit, and where the ACB had a key role in its creation. Moreover, both competitions share headquarters in Barcelona.

The economic bubble was inflated to the utmost, and when the crisis came the clubs didn't know how to respond. One reason is the high entry fee to the ACB: every team must pay a 3.2 million euros input (only the first time they play), and other 1.8 million in a variable fund for promotion and relegation purposes, as well as a 270,000 euros contribution to a wage guarantee fund and a similar amount for the proportional equity (as this "clubs association" is, in practice, a multi-entity league like the NBA). All this, regardless of mandatory annual budgets, very strict internal audits and debt-free certificates.

Another reason is that the ACB is a single-category league. The creation of the LEB Gold (at 96-97) and the LEB Silver (at 99-00), although endowed the Spanish basketball into a strong low-tier promotion system, they followed the same logic of the ACB to require a fortune just for participating, exacerbating the problem.

The reality is that today, only 7 of the 18 ACB teams and only 5 of the 14 LEB Oro teams in are current on their payments. Another Spanish journalist, Rafael Ramos, best known as "Rafaldo" stated in TuBasket.com: "How many teams who pay on time are really basketball teams? Real Madrid and Barcelona are football teams who don't care to spend each year between 22 and 27 million euros in its basketball section. Cajasol and Unicaja can't redistribute their revenues because, despite they're banks, the clubs are managed by non-profit organizations: they decided to play a management videogame with that money. Both of them spend between 5 and 14 million euros. Gran Canaria has the same videogame-like logic, but only with public money, which is a huge shame now adays. This year they will spend about 4 million, and Valencia will double that figure with private money with no return on investment. When the ACB will ever raise a sustainable and professional revenue model? ", he said.

Part of the solution to the problem may come from the Argentine model. The system of two or three categories that prevails in the Argentine National League that Leon Najnudel, among others, copied from the Spanish model at that time, was adapted to the idiosyncrasies of a country with a federal structure that demanded to respect a basic principle of indirect representation. When the ADC (Argentine version of ACB) took over management of the LNB, established in their statutes that the franchise value only exists for the purpose of buying or selling a spot. The ADC-LNB contains these two (or three) categories and at the base of the pyramid a team inputs strictly by sporting merit. Plan budget affidavits, tax and accounting audits, and debt-free certificates of course are present, and the negotiations between teams when one of them wants to leave the league and the other wants to get in with lower cost spot entry, but a equipment is revalued or devalued in terms of a right acquired in the court and it does not require a cash payment for participating: that's the key.
Matias Barmat (@worldhoopstats)

Lecturas: 782 - 2013-04-01