Rival basketball body wants EU antitrust action against EuroLeague organiser

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - ULEB, a grouping of 11 major basketball leagues in Europe, has asked EU antitrust enforcers to act against organiser Euroleague Commercial Assets (ECA) for allegedly blocking other basketball teams from taking part in Europe’s elite club basketball competition EuroLeague.

ECA is owned by 11 major basketball clubs while its subsidiary Euroleague Basketball runs the top two continental men’s club basketball competitions, EuroLeague and EuroCup.

“We believe that all of our clubs must be able to compete at the highest level and we want to keep the dream of international basketball alive for every club at every level,” ULEB President Tomas Van Den Spiegel said in a statement on ULEB’s website.

The alleged anti-competitive behaviour includes EuroLeague granting 10-year licences to the 11 shareholder clubs without any transparent award process and reducing the number of available slots in the competition to just 18 from 24, ULEB said.

The Commission confirmed receipt of the complaint, saying it would assess it.

ECA declined to comment.

“We don’t have any comment on that we are focused on the current season and besides the public announcement that ULEB launched we haven’t received any other communication so far,” spokesman Diego Fernandez said.

ULEB, which is a minority shareholder in ECA via Euroleague Basketball, managed the EuroLeague until 2009, when the competition was transferred to ECA.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Toby Davis