Europe’s top clubs look set to snub FIBA’s bid to establish a new continental league, it has been revealed.

Representatives from the Euroleague’s 11 largest teams have, following meetings in Barcelona, unveiled a £255 million deal with giant sports agency IMG for a joint venture starting in 2016 to set up a new-look 16-team competition that will incorporate a 30-round regular season, followed by best-of-five playoffs and a Final Four.

In a statement, the grouping confirmed it has rejected a deal on the table from FIBA to sign up for its proposed ‘Basketball Champions League’ in a major blow to the governing body’s ambitions to regain control of the game.

Anadolu Istanbul, CSKA Moscow, Milano, FC Barcelona, Fenerbahce Istanbul, Baskonia Vitoria, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Olympiacos Piraeus, Real Madrid and Zalgiris Kaunas have all signed up with IMG for an initial ten years with join management of the commercial operation and of all global rights covering both media and marketing, with Panathinaikos Athens thought to be awaiting legal clearance before formally committing.

“The clubs wish to thank FIBA for the work it has done in recent months and the proposal it presented,” said a Euroleague spokesperson. “The clubs announced their firm wish to continue conversations and discussions held over recent months to achieve consistent unity among all basketball stakeholders – namely clubs, domestic leagues and federations – joining forces to develop common strategies and policies that work towards the sole objective of growing the sport of basketball at all levels.

“Clubs will present the new project to the international federation and invite FIBA to join, working together for the growth and benefit of both club and national team competitions.”

The revamped Euroleague – now edging towards a franchised closed league – will have a format with 16 teams: 11 permanent franchises (potentially expandable in the future), a berth for the Eurocup champion, three direct-access spots for domestic league champions – likely to include France and Germany – and one place for the winner of a qualifying round featuring eight teams.

Their adjoining Eurocup will have 24 teams – 21 with access through domestic leagues and 3 wild card invitations. A 10-round regular season will be followed by a 14-round Top 16, two-game quarter-final and semi-final home-and-away series, ending with a championship final.

According to El Mundo Deportivo, any club wishing to withdraw will pay an exit fee of 10 million Euros with annual expected revenue projected at around €40m, above the €30m which FIBA had previously promised.

However in turning down FIBA’s proposals, the clubs – and IMG – will be expected to make a concerted attempt to bridge the huge revenue gulf between themselves and the NBA.

“The clubs expressed their satisfaction at having made the definitive step toward a true European league in which all teams play each other and at being able to continue the evolution and growth they have experienced in recent years,” a statement read.

“They are equally thankful for the opportunity of joining a partner with the strength and credibility of IMG, having unrivalled experience in the world of sport, and are confident that this agreement will lead to exponential improvement in the product that is delivered to the fans, which remains the number one priority.”

The move casts into doubt demands for player releases during international windows, which had previously been turned down by the Euroleague, while the increased schedule is also expected to impact heavily on the domestic leagues involved.

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