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Thread: Swiss Financial Institution Takes over the Swedish League

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    Senior Member Billy's Avatar
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    Default Swiss Financial Institution Takes over the Swedish League

    According to newspapers in Sweden, Obol -a financial services/investment company, have bought the license for the Basketliga , Swedens highest basketball league.

    The purchase of the license is valid for 15 years and means that OBOL will take over the management of the league. It is implied in the text that more clubs will partake in international competitions beginning next year as that creates more exposure for OBOL as a company and also higher revenues.

    My initial thought is that this is both better than could be anticipated and worse.
    Better because this probably means that a higher professionalism will be required from certain clubs.
    Worse because OBOLs business plan probably means that that the League alone needs to start produce revenue sometimes soon(never happened), failure to do so puts the entire enterprise as well as all the clubs in jeopardy.

    Another link (all in Swedish Im afraid)
    And the last one,

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    I am not really familliar with swedish bball, but I am kind of surprised such a star as Magic Johnson didn't manage to promote the sport (as well as european championship in 2003) to the limit where swedish league would become a bit more significant in european-point of view.
    15 years is a long period, while I am interested in how much does this swiss financial institution contribute every year?
    Sweden has a great standard, great infrastructure (mainly thanks to hockey), tall population, but still the longest article about swedish bball was the one describing Lampe and Markota/Omerhodžić practicing together in Sweden when younger.

    I don't actually know the basic state of bball there? are kids playing it? budget of the clubs& it's tax system?...
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon_Koncak View Post
    That's funny shit.I cant believe there are sports fans thinking like it.It's like Federer losing to random Japanese player in round 1 of French Open but tournament director stepping in and saying "hey it was a fluke win who wants to watch a random Japanese guy in next round,Federer qualifies"

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    Senior Member Billy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matiz
    I am not really familliar with swedish bball, but I am kind of surprised such a star as Magic Johnson didn't manage to promote the sport (as well as european championship in 2003) to the limit where swedish league would become a bit more significant in european-point of view.
    15 years is a long period, while I am interested in how much does this swiss financial institution contribute every year?
    Sweden has a great standard, great infrastructure (mainly thanks to hockey), tall population, but still the longest article about swedish bball was the one describing Lampe and Markota/Omerhodžić practicing together in Sweden when younger.

    I don't actually know the basic state of bball there? are kids playing it? budget of the clubs& it's tax system?...
    Thats a boatload of questions but Ill try to answer them to the best of my abilities. I might be completely in the wrong but I probably have a better than average understanding regarding the issues facing it. Take it for what it is, a posters thoughts about something he believes or rather disagrees with vehemently.

    First of all, I was somewhat early with the announcement of the OBOL investment into Basketligan. It is being negotiated right now and OBOLs intent is to purchase it for 15 years. Sorry

    Moving on...

    Swedish basketball, the difficulties facing it and the developement from the early 80s to the present:

    First of all, Sweden has a population today of around nine million people. Its not small but its not big either by European standards. A such, there are limited financial means(sponsors) available to help contribute to the ever increasing wallet a club needs to be succesfull.
    There is a very stiff competition between sports/federations and even between clubs about these funds.

    In the 70s and early 80s Sweden had a somewhat competitive league with frequent teams participating in the European cups and producing if not great so at least decent results.
    The highest league had teams covering the entire length of Sweden and the sport was the hip thing to follow. One of the reasons was that the "Elitserie", as it was called, was one of the first to introduce US import players who not only helped raise the level of the league as a competition, but was also good ambassadors for the sport as a whole.
    This was also at a time when teams across Europe had smaller budgets and Swedish teams still had a decent chance to compete by signing the right players at the right time. Players Swedish teams could get as Sweden as a country had a great reputation of accessibillity (democracy, living standard comparative to the US, good language skills).

    As the 80 came to a close, alot of the other countries who had previsously been on a competitive level similar to Sweden started to invest not just monetary means into the sportsclubs so as to develope talent, fascilities and knowledge, but also into the countries as a whole. Countries and therefor clubs who had previously been considered no-no:s for US players started not only to be able to pay better money but also opened up to the outside world. Language skills improved as a consequence and so did infrastructure.

    On the Swedish side most everything started to go wrong from a basketball perspective. Some poor management by certain clubs ran some teams into the ground (bad publicity) and poor signings among a smaller pool of available talent created (very)bad publicity (US players who got arrested on gun charges, players who got caught with selling and using amphetamins, players who ran bordellos) made alot of newspapers and casual fans turn away from the sport and look elsewhere to use their entertainment buck.
    And when the fans turn elsewhere so does sponsors. As does progress.

    At the same time the Swedish icehockey teams had not only started to send players over to the NHL (good publicity) but also to win some World Cups (very good publicity). As such, the people flocked to the arenas and so did money, money the Icehockey federation invested wisely into player and coach developement to create a continued cycle of progress and more funds.
    This year I believe there is 104 Swedish players in the NHL, an all time high and there is no reason to believe that it will decrease or even level off.

    At about the time of the Barcelona Dream Tream, Swedish clubs and the federation decided that they had had enough and decided to launch the "Basketliga", a closed league so as to help clubs develope longterm and not risk jeopardizing their economy by aiming for short term success.
    At this stage basketball was almost extinct on many places across the country and barely keeping above water on the south west coast, the place with the highest population density i.e. the greatest amount of available talent and money.

    Across Europe basketball was alive and well, new countries had started to come about and many of them had a great sense and history of basketball tradition and in Spain, Italy and even Germany the national teams had shown just how good they could be. The money and talent was there as the countries were bigger and more accessable to foreigners.

    Many Swedish teams strived hard to reach a similar sporting level -fast, but alot of clubs, ran more by idealists than by people with financial know-how, did not realize that you can not invest what you could have but what you do have. The list was endless with clubs who either went bankrupt or was able to barely escape the banks in their attempts to reach instant success.
    The clubs who immediately come to mind as now deceased is JB Knights, Nässjö, Heta Skåne, Kärscher, Umeå, Mataki and Oskarshamn (but I am certain there is many, many more).

    Among clubs who was able to withdraw from the league before facing financial ruin was Malbas, Alvik and Stockholm Capitals, (the latter two joined forces with Stockholms Polisen to create what is today 08 Stockholm).

    To top this list off, Solna and Södertälje, the two most succesfull youth organisations (most youth titles) in Sweden for the past 15-20 years were basically destroyed for many years by an extremely questionable tax ruling (tax deductions they had been granted by the tax authorities suddenly became void and had to be repaid immediately) and Solna went bust for a year before returning to the Basketliga while Södertälje survived but had no muscles to compete while they paid of the money owed.
    In this exceptionally difficult environment it was hard for the Swedish federation and the Basketliga council to create any and all financial revenue and the Basketliga concept as a whole as well as the national teams on all levels consequently suffered. No club teams able to compete on an international level and no national teams to get any positive news out to the media and the general public.

    Was it all doom and gloom though?
    Well, some teams were lucky and able to utilize the other clubs misfortunes and lure the talent to their teams.
    Plannja, a team from Luleå who had been known as "the green elevator" in basketball cirkles due to its green shirts and its inability to stay in the highest division but still being too good for the second, had a better management than most and a new coach with the ability to lure talent to a city with less than 80.000 citizens in the far north.
    At the same time as the closed Basketliga became a reality this team was given a license basically to widen the geographical boundaries of a sport who was extremely Stockholm heavy (I believe at one stage there was eight out of twelve teams from the greater Stockholm region).

    The coach was Charles Barton and one of the first players he recruited was a young completely unknown little pointguard out of a division three college no one had ever heard of called Hope College. The occasion came about out of pure chance as Charles (who had just had the previous years team on a small tour of the US) asked one of the coaches of a team they had played if he knew of anyone who could help the team out in the back court. The coach handed him a tape and said that he had to give this young man a chance, that he was unemployed but a good man and had been with the team before graduating, that he could be special given the right opportunity. His name was Eric Elliot and he stayed with the club for the next six years and in the process helped establish the backbone of what would become Swedens, to date, most succesfull basketball team.

    Plannja as a club is in many ways an anomaly in Swedish basketball as it has been able to co exist in a very small market with a very succesfull icehockey team and in the process increased their year on year growth and spectator numbers throughout the leagues history. I dare to say that this club is the only clear cut success story out of the Basketliga as it could never have come about without a closed league.

    How does this relate to Magic Johnson you might ask?

    -The Magic Johnson issue: M7 Borås was, before Magic became involved in the club, somewhat of an exception to the norm in Swedish basketball. The club had limited financial resources and therefore limited means by which to contract import players. The coach (and club manager!) at the time, Pär Källman, consequently decided to use his Swedish players as his primary scorers and contract hard working defensive oriented players as imports. The last year before Magic Johnson became somewhat involved inte club they were able to get all the way to the finals with a squad nobody had even deemed playoff worthy!
    As Pär had found the rigours of management and coaching to difficult to deal with he hired a coach -enter Charles Barton again. Charles had done a great job of accumulation talent without actually winnig the title with Plannja (they won the year after he left) and had been "set free" by the German club (Ulm)he had been coaching.
    At the same time Charles had met a man named Steve Haney who was working as an agent and was a friend of Magic Johnson. Somehow the two of them not only was able to get Magic involved in the club but was also able to convince the M7 that after the previous years success it was time to do some grand business and fiscal reposponsibility was for pansies.
    Consequently, the team who had been known for handing the reigns to its local players suddenly shopped on the global basketball market like there was no tomorrow and as it turns out there was none -at least not for M7. At one point Steve Haney, who was now acting as GM, (after Pär Källman left to go work for an icehockey clubseeing where the club was heading) hired and fired three players within a week and then went on a rotation pattern of eight players. At the end of the bench sat the four men who had steered the team to the previous years finals and could not be allowed to touch the leather if the rest of the team so had been decapitated. The team made it to the finals and although they had a superior squad on paper they could not beat a very cohesive Plannja team based around team play and two US imports basically there to take the open shots and play good team defence.

    Never had the difference between basketball philosophies been so apparent and never had the basketball establishment in Sweden exhaled so deeply and been so relieved.

    So, what was Magic Johnsons contribution to the M7 club he gave his name?

    Well, he created some initial publicity for the sport and the club and did play some (televised!)games (three if Im not mistaken) who should have been considered exhibition games due to the insane rule violations OK:d by the Basketliga HQ (who were as out of it as the M7 board). There were no known monetary contribution ever made by Magic Johnson and if we put it really harshly all he did was contribute to the downfall of a club who actually tried to give the local players a chance to be succesfull.

    Given time and effort I could probably find out what the finances looked like exactly as the matter of bankruptcy is public information, but quite honestly, I see no reason to.

    So, what do I see as the main obstacles Swedish basketball needs to overcome to be able to compete on an international level?

    There are really four things that needs to happen.

    1.
    The abolishment of the "artistskatt".
    I read an article in The Economist that said that Sweden has the highest gross taxes in the world. Well, its true unfortunately and that is only half of the story, then the state takes employment fees from the employer as well. That alone creates problems for clubs to hire good players as good players cost money and more so by the day as more clubs in other countries develope financial means by which to compete.
    To counter this, the Basketliga board has for the last few seasons played a schedule that only spans over six months (from the first day to the last days of the finals) and thereby enabling artistskatt which means "artist taxation" and basically provides for an absolutely massive tax exemption if a person resides less than 180 days in Sweden.

    This incredibly short season was introduced to help financially weaker teams overcome the division between them and more prosperous teams but it also created a boatload of problems.
    -teams that does not enter the playoffs or get booted out in the first round plays competitive basketball for 4,5-5 months of the year. Its simply insufficient if you want to develope players as games are too frequent to have quality practices.
    -local talents get to sit on the bench or not get signed at all as they are foolish enough to actually live in the country and be developed there.
    -it creates a bad product as many teams are not properly prepared when the season start (many teams, but not all, goes on preseason tours abroad where the foreigners can practice with the team before the six month rule upon entering Sweden kicks in).
    -it creates a lack of continuity as many players go to the Basketliga for a year to become statistic fluffers and earn a bigger contract abroad (who wants to get paid for only five months when you can get paid elsewhere for eight?).
    -no team can really compete abroad as games would be way too frequent(Norrköping will try this year but will consequently suffer, I dont belive anyone can play 3-4 games a week and still be playing well).
    -it creates financial dependancy. There is a striking resemblance between a crack whore and many Swedish basketball clubs this year. There are clubs this year that would not be able to resign existing players next year if the "artistskatt" would be abolished or the Basketliga season extended. If they choose to do so they would be back taxed for what the players earned last year and have the employer fee come upon them like you would not belive and consequently drive them into bankruptcy. Therefore they need to sign new players (get the fix) for every new season in order to avoid taxes and fees (start sweating and speak incoherently/get nauseous).

    Believe it or not but when asked a direkt question if they wanted to abolish the artistskatte season, only five of twelve clubs said they wanted to

    2.
    Reintroduce the 100 point plan and demand fiscal reponsibility.
    When the Basketliga came about there was a 100 point plan that the clubs needed to follow in order to stay in. As the clubs started to flunder alot of the demands were scrapped or overlooked as clubs went from financially striving to surviving due to poor management. Among the plans points was the recreation of basketball on tv.

    3.
    Create a player and coach profile.
    Set forth demands for what players in different ages needs to be able to achieve such as the skill to dribble, shooting technique, understanding of the game etc, etc. There is youth coaches out there that lack any and all education and knowledge about how to develope players and especially big players. As things stand now, coaches are so concerned with winning that they rather put the big (and slower to develope skills that can help a team win) players on the bench to achieve wins than be patient and show the big men how much they are needed and give them faith. Is there really any wonder that many taller players in Sweden decides to accept the medication as to halt their growth when they are not appreciated.
    (Studies have shown that playes over 203 cm runs a much greater risk of developing heart deceases than those below that level. Consequently, children being along those growth curves are offered a medication as to hinder/slow their growth). Other arguments that are frequently used (by doctors I might add) is that tall kids get teased and its harder and that it is more expensive to have taller kids.)


    4.
    Equal access to means.
    Right now, many citys are subsidizing the football and hockeyclubs -thereby giving the sports a greater competitive advantage on all levels. I am a strong believer that all clubs of all sports should be given the same opportunities.
    Subsidizing pitches or rinks, giving food and clothing grants to teams needs to stop unless given to all clubs -all else is the devil
    Right now, many icehockey clubs are purchasing the arenas from the citys and thereby making it much more difficult for basketball clubs to access them.


    Although the sport here are battling some massive obstacles there is hope, all coaches who has had some sort of greater interest in the sport over the last ten years or more agree that all new crops of talent is as good or better than the previous one. The players nowadays are much more athletic, they are taller and are better coached. What they lack is a more complete understanding of the game. The players execute commands but can not read the game as well by themselves and need more hands on coaching about directions. (Is that part of the solution or the problem -hmmm.)

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    one of the most detailed posts I've read in a while.

    I kind of suspected the tax system must be a problem with sports in Sweden, but I had no idea with this half a year season and stuff. it would be much more logicall that teams would hire some US players for the last 6 months, instead of shortening the whole season. while playing for 3-4 games in a week all in great pace- I definately agree, no team is able to sustain that, with Miami & Detroit included...
    I thought Magic played some more games for his team - what seemed to be the bright side, turned into the complete opposite.

    Hopefully Swedish bball will get to see some brighter moments with some good players to come (I wouldn't mind if that would be Maraker )
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon_Koncak View Post
    That's funny shit.I cant believe there are sports fans thinking like it.It's like Federer losing to random Japanese player in round 1 of French Open but tournament director stepping in and saying "hey it was a fluke win who wants to watch a random Japanese guy in next round,Federer qualifies"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matiz
    one of the most detailed posts I've read in a while.

    I kind of suspected the tax system must be a problem with sports in Sweden, but I had no idea with this half a year season and stuff. it would be much more logicall that teams would hire some US players for the last 6 months, instead of shortening the whole season. while playing for 3-4 games in a week all in great pace- I definately agree, no team is able to sustain that, with Miami & Detroit included...
    I thought Magic played some more games for his team - what seemed to be the bright side, turned into the complete opposite.

    Hopefully Swedish bball will get to see some brighter moments with some good players to come (I wouldn't mind if that would be Maraker )
    Man, I did not realize that the post was that long until just now.
    After going through it I see some grammatical errors as well as some highly questionable sentence building but as a whole I think it captures my thoughts quite well.

    Sweden got some decent talent coming through, I know Trifilli is not a fan of Mbemba but I have some hope for him getting his act together. Inan will probably be solid and Jerebko looked very good when I was watching him, he reminds me of Bodiroga in that he is exceptionally mobile for his size.

    There is some younger ones that looks promising and especially one who has NBA potential written all over him but quite frankly I dare not tell his name as he has another citizenship to go along his Swedish one (and yes, Im that neurotic).

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    I had written this long ass post about how the agreement between the Swedish Federaton and OBOL is signed and ready to be published to the world. However, before I had a chance to post it this annoying piece of junk went belly up on me and is now lost somewhere in eternity.

    Its the dogs bollocks really.

    Anyway, here is a quick recap of my unpublished post:

    The Swedish Basketball Federation has published a press release stating that all papers have been signed and OBOL now owns the right to run the Basketliga.
    (It is in Swedish)

    The Swedish webb page Basketsverige.se has a small run down of the agreement
    (Again in Swedish)

    I will, below, write down what I consider to be the important parts and my thoughts about it:

    -It states that OBOL will create a new Logo and that the new name of the competition is OBOL Basketball League.

    Its less than a week untill the competition starts, this agreement should have happened earlier but better late than never.

    -There will be a new organisation put into place consisting of members of OBOL, the Swedish Federation and the basketball clubs. Untill so, the federation will run the day to day operations.

    Hmmm, it will be interesting to see in what direction the votes will be weighted. So many different interest are competing here.

    -There will be prize money based on the position at the end of the season. No basic grants will be given to the clubs at all. The prize money will only be paid out if the club participates in the European cups the following season.

    This is brilliant! Not only will it force the league to play games over a greater timespan than six months but it will basically help fund a European campaing for the participating teams.

    -The agreement is valid for 15 years but the federation has the right to cancel it after five years and OBOL after three if the federation breaks the agreement. This is OBOLs only real escape clause.

    This definitely gives some further credibility to the competition and ensures that there is some long term plans inprogress.

    -The federation has the right to use the money they received for the license (OBOL purchased) to spend as they please.

    This will definitely help finance the national teams who have had some serious monetary constraints

    -The money. Nobody wants to say how much money we are talking about here but according to Thomas Nyström of OBOL, this is one of the biggest ever financial agreements signed in Swedish sports history.

    Well considering IMGs and the Swedish Football Associations agreement to finance the new National Football Arena in Råsunda, this is big. It would be interesting to see how much money there was involved in Färjestads, HV71s, Malmö IFs, Malmö FFs and Linköping Hockeys arena deals as well as IFK Göteborgs new IMG deal

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    Multi, multi, multi millionaire Niklas Zennström has according to Basketsverige.se, decided to support Sallen Basket
    (All Swedish)
    Niklas has apparently decided to make a larger contribution to the club he used to play for as a child, quite noble of him. He just contacted the management and said he wanted to donate some money.

    Niklas is the co-creator of the file sharing client Kaazaa and Skype. He sold Skype to Ebay for a number in the region of 2,2 Billion € (-yes, thats is billion and yes, that is Euros).

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    Norrköping has signed all three players they had on try outs but only one of them for an extensive period of time:

    US Jeffrey Viggiano (sf, 195 cm) signed for six months, he is expecting to receive his Italian citizenship around christmas, something that could open up for another signing. Viggiano also has signed a pre contract with Lottomatica Roma to join them as soon as the Swedish season is over.

    US Derek Stribling (f, 194 cm) has signed a one month contract to help alleviate some pressure from semi injured Swe Stefan Grundberg (g/f 194 cm).

    Pol Dariusz Lewandowski (c, 212 cm) has also signed a one month contract to help Slo Gabriel Szalay (c, 214 cm) recoup for the latter stages of the "OBL".

    Im still holding out hope that Norrköping will give Dariusz an extended contract, he was apparently a pretty solid force in the middle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy
    Pol Dariusz Lewandowski (c, 212 cm) has also signed a one month contract to help Slo Gabriel Szalay (c, 214 cm) recoup for the latter stages of the "OBL".
    Thanks for info Billy, I hope that popular "Lewy" will be good players in this team

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    IMGs contract with Malmö FF (a footie club) is apperently worth atleast 66 M € over 13 years while IFK Götebors (footie too) contract with the same company (IMG) is valued at 33 M € for 13 years as well.

    The Swedish FAs agreement (with Jernhusen, Peab, Fabege and the city of Solna) is somewhat bigger (196 M €) but that is to finance the new national stadium so it is not really comparable.

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