Many of the participating teams in the finals of the last Champions Cup in Giulianova, Italy, were of the opinion that the present format did not any longer meet the standards of the most important club wheelchair basketball tournament, especially because all eight teams have to play five games in three days. There is never enough time during such an event to discuss seriously various alternatives, solutions and other issues. IWBF Europe then decided to organise a special meeting, for which the sixteen highest ranked teams were invited together with some other experts.
The meeting took place on May 30th in Brussels and we had very useful and successful deliberations. Many clubs and others had proposed various amendments to the present format, but we finally agreed on the following:
IWBF will try to do more to present the winner of the Champions Cup as the real winner of the European club competition. Our PR should be improved.
Also, it has been made clear that IWBF Europe does not have financial resources to invest in the Champions Cup. All costs have to come from the participating teams. As long as we do not have guaranteed European-broad TV coverage, it will be very difficult to attract sponsors. Individual clubs and organisers of various events are in a better situation to arrange TV and therefore sponsors and we welcome that.
Format Champions Cup 2016-2017 and afterwards
The preliminary rounds will not change. There are three groups (A, B and C) with five teams each playing according to the round robin system. These preliminary rounds will be played in the first weekend of February (Thursday-Sunday). The numbers 1 and 2 of these rounds go to two quarter final rounds, together with the winner and runner-up of the last Champions Cup.
The quarter final rounds will be played in the second weekend of March (Friday-Sunday). There are two groups (D and E) and in principle allocated according to the following system:
Group D: #1 Group A, #2 Group B, #1 Group C
Group E: #2 Group A, #1 Group B, #2 Group C
The Winner and the Runner-up of the previous Champions Cup have the responsibility to organise these two quarter finals and the Competitions Commission will organise a draw to allocate Groups D and E to the previous Champion and Runner-up.
After that, we may have to make changes in the allocation of the teams to the groups, based on the following principles:
- The two teams of the same preliminary round will always be allocated to different Groups, as foreseen above;
- Two teams of the same country will be allocated to different Groups;
- Not more than two teams from the same country, if possible. (It is not possible if there are five teams of the same country in the quarter finals.)
- If there are two teams from the same country in one group, they must play the first game against each other.
The two best teams of these two Quarter Final groups will proceed to the Final Four.
The Final Four will take place during the first weekend of May (Friday-Sunday), preferably by a neutral organiser that is awarded the organisation early in the season.
The semi-finals (#1 Group D vs #2 Group E and #1 Group E vs #2 Group D) take place in the afternoon/evening of the Friday. On Saturday are the games between the two losers and after that the grand final game. Teams go home on Sunday.
It is important to realise that the Quarter Finals and the Final Four are three tournaments with four teams only, one hotel and one court, each much easier to organise than the present Finals with eight teams and two courts. For these tournaments, we need six referees and one technical delegate and in specific situations also a classifier.
This new structure will be incorporated in the Manual next year and it will start in February 2017. National federations must have the time to adapt to the extra weekend in February.
Champions Cup 2015-2016
The only change in next year’s Champions Cup is that we will not organise any more the games for the teams that will not play in the semi-finals. This means as well that the organiser will not need a second court on the Sunday.
André Vergauwen Cup, Willi Brinkmann Cup and Challenge Cup
At this stage, no changes are yet envisages for the finals of these three cups. There are serious advantages of prolonging the finals with one day (only one court, only one game per day), but also cost implications and longer away from home and work. Comments from clubs are very welcome.
We will discuss at the Forum the final registration date of players to participate in the various EuroCup competitions. One club suggested having that date as late as possible, while others felt that clubs could then buy their teams just for the Champions Cup Finals or any of the other finals.
The Hague, 01 June 2015