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Top Estonian basketball team releases all players, facing disbandment

BC Kalev/Cramo basketball team, who have reigned supreme in Estonia for a decade, have terminated all contracts with its players and are facing an uncertain future.

VTB United League, with teams from Russia, Poland, Belarus and Kazakhstan in addition to Kalev/Cramo, confirmed the end of the 2019-20 season on Friday with no winner declared this spring. Kalev/Cramo's last game was a home match against Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar after which the board made radical decisions under the emergency situation.

"We terminated all contracts with our players after that game. We had no other option," BC Kalev/Cramo president Toomas Linamäe told ERR.

Negotiations have started with the players regarding remuneration. "We have reached an agreement with half of our players, individual talks continue with the other half," Linamäe said. "We have done this in writing so everything would be recorded. We ask for understanding."

According to Linamäe, most sponsors pay out at the end of the season and as the club lost the income from ticket sales, financial damage for a club with a budget over €1 million is heavy. It is possible that the team will be dissolved.

"We are missing the 30 percent which is very painful. It is not only about the players, we have other obligations that need to be payed for; transportation, arenas, other activities. 70 percent of our budget was covered by private sponsors and companies. We do not know whether they can help in the future. If we will continue, how we will continue, which leagues and clubs will continue - no one knows the answers," Linamäe added.


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Editor: Anders Nõmm

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