"No Chance" Former Towers Owner Would Reinvest in London - Hoopsfix.com

“No Chance” Former Towers Owner Would Reinvest in London

British Basketball in Europe

British Basketball in EuropeFormer London Towers owner Costi Zombanakis has said there is “absolutely no chance” he would reinvest in a London basketball project if given the opportunity.

The comments come after the Euroleague has made very clear their desire for a London based franchise. Talking to Eurohoops.net, Zombanakis said:

“If you asked me if I would return to London to run a new project, now having all this experience, I would answer there is absolutely no chance! I might think about it if Bertomeu told me it was going to be a private league with big games every week. But being a bit older and a lot more experienced as a businessman now, I would really have to give it some serious thinking before making a decision.”

With the Towers, who withdrew from the BBL in 2006 and folded in 2009, Zombanakis competed in the first ever season of the Euroleague in 2001, but stumbled to a winless 0-14 record. Although there has been murmurs of British teams wanting to compete in Europe again, all three teams (Brighton, Guildford and Towers) that have attempted previously have been hugely stretched financially and except for Brighton, struggled competitively.

Zombanakis continued that until Euroleague sides don’t have to compete in their domestic leagues as well, and have an increased number of home games, it will be incredibly difficult to make work:

“At first I thought the Euroleague was going to be a private league. At this point I need to clarify that my goal is not to make a profit out of basketball. I would be crazy to believe anything else. But let me also point out that it wouldn’t be wise for me, to have a hobby that could destroy me or put me under a lot of stress!

“So I expected that Euroleague would be the NBA of Europe. I can remember that ever since 2001, I told Jordi that the best thing for every team that participated in the Euroleague, would be to leave their national leagues. Not everyone can have the attitude the Giannakopoulos’ brothers have towards their team and the money they spend.

“We couldn’t stay in business with 80 tickets sold against Brighton in the English League, when against Maccabi in Euroleague we had 15.000 fans! I had pointed out to Jordi that only through a private league, one can build a franchise. That is essential for the Euroleague and every team participating in it!

“During the second year of the Euroleague, I realized that none of this would ever happen. I had already spent a lot of money, a lot more than what I planned, so I decided I should cut my losses and I announced I would withdraw from the Euroleague.”

Talking about the issues basketball faces in London, and why he think it will be difficult for it ever to take off, he added:

“In London you have to compete with football. that is a huge part of the British culture. There are 4 national divisions, plus the local leagues. Then there is Rugby. A kid living in London can do all sorts of things. The sports and entertainment options a kid can choose from are endless!

“The financial cost of building a basketball brand in London is huge and the competition is fierce. And without a doubt, no project will ever progress with only 6 games at the top level every year. To invest money into something like this you either have to be too naive, or too much of a … “malakas”, or to have more money than you need and don’t care how much you lose.”

Make sure you read the full interview over at Eurohoops.net where Zombanakis also talks about the BBL and the collapse of ITV Digital, why he first invested in the Towers and the state of the Euroleague.

Thoughts? Do you think a British team competing in Europe could work? Let us know in the comments below!


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