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VTB United League president emeritus Sergey Ivanovspoke with journalists following the conclusion of Sunday's board meeting. 
Joined by league president Sergey Kushchenko, general director Andrey Shirokov and deputy general directorIlona Korstin, Ivanov spoke about the VTB United League's upcoming 7th season.


On the league's new club: A new club has been added to the league: Georgia's Vita, which will replace Krasnye Krylia Samara. Vita is an ambitious project. Basketball is one of the most popular sports in Georgia and I think some are aware that the International Student Basketball League once held a game in Tbilisi. There were 8,000 fans at that game. Can you imagine anything like that at a game between university teams in Russia? I have no doubt that VTB United League games will quickly become popular among the local fans and that there will be sellouts at the 9,000-seat Sports Palace in Tbilisi.


On the foreign player limit: Per the "Law on foreign players", the Russian Federation Sports Ministry needs to examine this question in conjuction with both the professional leagues as well as the respective federations. I think you are aware that at the moment the Russian Basketball Federation is not completely functional. Once a new president is elected, the organization can being discussing a limit for the Russian clubs in the league. By the way, I support Andrei Kirilenko's candidacy in the upcoming election. That's my personal opinion. I know him well not only as a player, but also as someone who has done a lot to help promote and develop basketball. Kirilenko is the only person whose name could attract investment from private sponsors.


On the budget and prize fund: The budget will remain at 375 million rubles for the upcoming season. The prize fund will also be about 140 million rubles. The system for distributing the prizes, which is meant to motivate clubs with smaller budgets, will change. It will be tied to each team's effectiveness, number of wins and final place in the standings. Yes, compared to football or hockey, the VTB United League's budget is laughable, but in terms of bang for its buck, I believe our office is very professional and successful. We have enough sponsors and partners, but, of course, we'd be happy for someone else to join us, especially from from another country, given that we are an international league.


On broadcasting games on Russian TV: I've already met with Gazprom-Media's board chairman Dmitry Chernyshenko and I can assure that the number of games on the new free Match TV federal channel will be the same as last season. I'm confident that basketball fans will not be affected. In any event, the VTB United League will remain on publicly accessible television. I think that our wonderful commentators Roman Skvortsov and Ilona Korstin will continue working on the new channel. The Above the Rim program will also continue to delight basketball fans.


On the level of competition: When else have three Russian clubs competed in the Euroleague and five in the Eurocup? That's become possible because of the VTB United League. The respect for the league is growing and organizers of the European cup tournaments recognize that. As a result, the level of competition within our league is also growing. The long-time dream of knocking CSKA off its throne is closer and closer to being fulfilled by the other contenders.