Wildcard would have many disadvantages for Frankfurt Skyliners

Dhe media and the public took no notice when the Basketball Bundesliga changed paragraph 15 of its license status in the summer of 2022. This section regulates the allocation of the right to participate without sporting qualifications and contained the following passage until then: “Applicants who have received a wild card in the past five years and their legal successors at the same location will not be considered.”

This five-year period was abolished so that the Fraport Skyliners, who had recently remained in the league via a wildcard, could once again remain top-class in this way. However, a free license would have to be available for this. This would be the case if a sportingly qualified team (presumably a promoted team) does not apply for a license, waives its right to participate or fails to meet the licensing hurdles because the economic requirements of the league cannot be met.

Whether this will be the case is not yet foreseeable. Potentially interested parties must declare their “desire to acquire such a right to participate” by April 15th. In the meantime, the league has approached the clubs and asked about their interest. The Skyliners deposited theirs “to keep all options open for us,” as managing director Yannick Binas emphasizes.

Before the encounter with Alba Berlin this Sunday (3 p.m., live on MagentaSport), the Frankfurters are 17th in the table. If that were also the case at the end of the season, they would be asked before the bottom of the table in the event of a wildcard procedure, because the league would like to reward the better placed relegated players and prevent the forging of alliances when licensing is known from the past.

“Too many imponderables”

This process is also new and replaces the open and time-consuming process of the past, which only gave the Frankfurters planning security late last year. Of course, the goal of Hessen is to ensure that they remain in the class through sporting means. Both Binas and sports manager Marco Völler are also optimistic in this regard because the club will sign another guard before the end of the change period at the end of the month, who according to Völler already has “BBL and a lot of European experience”.

According to Binas, the question of whether the wild card option will be used again in the worst-case scenario does not yet arise due to “too many imponderables”. In any case, it would be a financial feat, because after the 700,000 euros for the current license, you would have to raise another 700,000 to 800,000 euros. “We had to use our reserves for the wildcard last summer,” explains Binas. As a consequence, savings had to be made on the playing staff, which is reflected in the standings. “If we stay in the league again with a wildcard, the next season will be even more difficult than the current one,” Völler paints a rather bleak scenario. Like Binas, he’s not sure whether requesting a wild card again would be the right move for the Skyliners.

League threatens image damage

The statute was changed precisely for such cases, because the league had not expected that the promoted would fail relatively often to meet the license requirements. In the end, an adjustment to the realities was made. However, the financial hurdles are extremely high when a club wants to take this path twice in a short space of time. For Bayreuth, who is currently bringing up the rear, the amount would probably not be affordable even once.

“The original idea of ​​the wildcard was to be able to give large and up-and-coming clubs a place in the league,” explains Jens Staudenmayer, who acts as an authorized officer and as the commercial and sporting director of the league. This option still exists. However, there is currently no project that would be suitable for this. Among other things, “financial resources that must be higher than the average budget of a Bundesliga club, a high media reach and a hall with a capacity of at least 6,000 spectators” are required.

It is still unclear whether a free license will be available. Staudenmayer assumes that five to six second division clubs will apply for a license. But whether the climbers will be among the applicants and whether they can meet all the requirements remains to be seen. While the wildcard procedure is questionable per se, it would do even more damage to the image of the league if a free license could not be granted and the Basketball Bundesliga started the next season with only 17 teams.

The author was coach of the year twice in Germany.


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