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Fiba lands US investment to galvanise Basketball Champions League

GCBH LP pledges to help commercialise European club basketball competition.

  • Posted: January 21 2020
  • By: Sam Carp

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The International Basketball Federation (Fiba) has announced a strategic partnership with US-based sports and media investment group GCBH LP that will provide funding for the Basketball Champions League (BCL), the global governing body’s European club competition.

Fiba will have majority control of a new joint entity, Fiba ClubCo, which will hold shares in the BCL alongside 11 European national basketball leagues and the Union of European Leagues of Basketball.

The new venture will provide the BCL with equity funding and expertise to improve, develop and commercialise the competition, which had its first season in 2016/17.

Fiba ClubCo will also be responsible for the staging and development of the newly revamped Intercontinental Cup, which features the winners of Fiba’s continental competitions and the champions of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) development G-League, as well as other possible international club competitions in the future.

The BCL is one of two major club basketball competitions in Europe, with its main rival being the EuroLeague. Qualification to Fiba’s tournament is based on performance in domestic leagues, while the EuroLeague offers long-term licenses to clubs such as Real Madrid and Fenerbahçe.

“It is an important day for Fiba and our national federations, leagues and clubs,” said Fiba secretary general Andreas Zagklis. “Fiba confirms its commitment to offer a platform of growth to clubs around Europe and beyond. A group of prominent investors with media expertise will significantly assist us in achieving the strategic objective approved by the Fiba Congress last August, that is to shape international club competitions.”

GCBH specialises in the areas of media, broadcasting, digital rights, sports commercialisation, sponsorship and growth investment.

The group is led by managing partners Brian Bailey, who has held senior positions at the Carlyle Group, Carmichael Partners, Carousel Capital and Forstmann Little & Co, and Kevin Tsujihara, who spent six years as chief executive of Warner Entertainment during a 25-year stint at the company. The pair are being supported by a select group of investors and operating partners in senior industry positions.

Tsujihara said the partnership aims to “set the financial and strategic foundations” to help international club basketball “reach its full potential”, adding that the aim is to establish the BCL as “the preeminent club competition in Europe”.

Bailey added: “Kevin and I are both incredibly excited about the explosive growth opportunities in basketball, the world’s fastest-growing and second-largest sport, with nearly 1.5 billion fans worldwide, and we are very enthusiastic about Fiba’s vision for international club basketball competitions.

“We also share Fiba’s values of meritocracy and inclusiveness in sports and we are fully supportive of Fiba’s important role in developing and promoting the sport that we love.”

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January 21, 2020 at 01:58PM

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