FIBA announce tie-up to upscale Basketball Champions League

FIBA, the world governing body of basketball, has announced a strategic partnership agreement with GCBH LP, a US entity backed by a group of experienced sports and media investors, to take Basketball Champions League (BCL) to its next level and reshape the landscape of club competitions in Europe and beyond.

Under the terms of the strategic partnership agreement, FIBA and GCBH have formed a new entity majority owned and controlled by FIBA, called FIBA ClubCo, to jointly hold their shareholding in BCL.

Together, GCBH and FIBA will partner with 11 European National Basketball Leagues and the Union of European Leagues of Basketball (ULEB) to provide equity funding and targeted know-how to BCL to further improve, develop and commercialize the competition for the benefit of fans, players and clubs. Additionally, FIBA ClubCo will also hold and develop the newly revamped Intercontinental Cup and possibly other international club competitions in the future, stated a Press release.

GCBH brings important financial capital and resources as well as expertise in the fields of media, broadcasting, digital rights, sports commercialization, sponsorship and growth investing. GCBH is led by principals Brian Bailey, a 25-year private equity industry veteran who has held senior positions at the Carlyle Group, Carmichael Partners, Carousel Capital and Forstmann Little & Co, and Kevin Tsujihara, a long-time, dynamic media executive who spent nearly 25 years at Warner Bros. Entertainment, including six years as CEO, with a lifetime passion and business interests in the sport of basketball. They are supported by a select group of investors and operating partners holding senior industry positions.

FIBA President Hamane Niang said: “Following our partnership with the NBA in Africa to launch the Basketball Africa League, we are glad to conclude another important agreement for our club competitions, this time focused on BCL and the Intercontinental Cup.”

FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis said, “It is an important day for FIBA and our national federations, leagues and clubs. 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.”

Brian Bailey, Managing Partner of GCBH, said, “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.”

Kevin Tsujihara, Managing Partner of GCBH, said, “The FIBA ClubCo partnership aims to set the financial and strategic foundations for international club basketball to reach its full potential. GCBH is excited to leverage its resources and its collective experience in media, sports and investing to support Patrick Comninos and his team in establishing BCL as the pre-eminent club competition in Europe.”

BCL CEO Patrick Comninos said, “This new partnership and initial investment signifies an important step in the continuous growth of the BCL and its mission to offer a competitive environment of the highest level. We are very pleased that experienced industry leaders such as Brian and Kevin share our vision regarding the potential for growth that club basketball has in Europe.”