There are many things that will change in European basketball, while Coronavirus is reshaping the landscape of it. Today I will focus on Greece, where the first signs appeared already a couple of years ago when the economic crisis hit the country. The whole context of Covid-19 only deepens the lack of money, but the problems started a decade ago, in 2009, with some structural weaknesses in the economy.
The basketball continued to have results even in spite of this phenomenon. PAO won the Euroleague in 2009 and 2011 and Olympiacos Piraeus back to back in 2012 and 2013, playing in 5 finals of the European competition between 20010-2017. Excellent results for historical clubs in Europe.
But unfortunately and imperceptibly, the shortage of money affected Greek basketball and this couldn’t be hidden anymore. And if you want some proofs for that, I’ll give you. According to the French newspaper L’Equipe who presented the budgets for this Euroleague season, Olympiacos was at 12th place with 16 million euros and PAO at 14th with only 14 million. In a world where more money is invested in basketball every season with these budgets, you cannot reach the Final 4 of the richest league in Europe. Even a poor club like Zalgiris Kaunas increased its budget to almost 12 million this season.
In the same time, traditional clubs like PAOK and Aris were facing bankruptcy last summer when they have signed mediocre foreigners without any hope to reach trophies. A couple of years ago, AEK Athens took a smart decision to leave Eurocup for BasketballCL at the right time and conquer the title as champions of the competition. They understood that their budget and level fits better with Champions League.
The thing is that Greek basketball needs to search immediately for more sponsors inside and outside of the country in order to maintain their former prestige. Hard times are coming everywhere in Europe, not just in Greece, as well in Turkey and many other countries. The teams, owners, the entire basketball organizations have to process rightly the whole situation and to adapt. And especially the fans. There is no need for the meaningless acts of violence, totally pointless as attacking Dimitris Giannakopoulos’ house, the man who made so many things for basketball not only in Greece but in Europe.