Korisliiga boss Westerholm is happy about the heart winter’s high-stakes games, but hears the criticism – “Let’s make rampages if necessary”


Korisliiga competition director Tom Westerholm feels that the league’s current series model has succeeded in its goals.

Text: Juho Silventoinen

Korisliiga’s current series model, which has been praised and criticized, fulfills its purpose, but concerns and development proposals are welcomed in the association with open arms. This is what Tom Westerholm , the competition director of Korisliiga, assures .

We also asked Korisliiga coaches Janne Koskimie from Karhubasket , Jussi Savolainen from Salon Vilppa and Jyri Lehtonen from Kouvo for their views on the matter. You can read the coaches’ comments on the subject on Saturday.

Westerholm says that the current series model was born in 2019 from the need to have a wider match calendar than before: the international games of certain teams did not want to fit into the series program. At the same time, it was wanted to fit the renewed Finnish cup better into the series program. In addition, the goal was to increase the number of meaningful games already in the regular season.

– Yes, we have succeeded in these, above all the meaningful games: in the middle of the season, there are quite a lot of high-stakes games. From the very first games, these matter; of course, now that the Body Series comes to an end, body ratios and other things are calculated. There is, so to speak, no slack at all in this series, says Westerholm.

One of the feedbacks received from the clubs has concerned the difficulty of partner sales of the matches, when the days of the spring games are not known in advance, unlike before.

– I have tried to say that these are now a bit longer playoffs. In the same way, you can’t sell matches in the playoffs in advance, when you don’t know when the games actually are. If the series of matches is ending, but it is not ending, then the matches will only increase and increase from that. I understand that side of the clubs’ feedback, but now there have been a little more of those “relegation games”, comments Westerholm.

One of the features of the system is that those advancing from the lower secondary series to the playoffs face another of the top two in the regular season. It partly paves the way from the lower series towards making a surprise, says Westerholm.

– The first games of the early season – 10 or 20, however you want to count or look at it – their contribution is quite big. We have the top teams in the series, the first and second, who have been quite good for many years. We feel that when you receive a number one or two, it is difficult to surprise. That road becomes so much more difficult already ten rounds before the end of the season; that has been the most central [concern] that has been in the feedback, the competition director opens.

The future will be outlined in the spring

Westerholm underlines and emphasizes several times that the dialogue on the subject is conducted not only with the clubs, but also by listening to the public and the owners. He says that he meets with the coaches every week and talks closely with the club managers.

In the last week of January, the association conducted an online survey for clubs regarding their experiences with the series system. The survey was anonymous, but the answers were linked to the respondent’s job. In this way, the views of the head coaches, CEOs and presidents of the clubs could be separated from each other.

– The last time we had today [Thursday] was a meeting of the Korisliiga management team regarding the matter. The management group has a vision of how to proceed with the issue, and then we will come to the club meeting during the spring to present the ideas on how to proceed with this. I don’t want to open the matter any more.

Westerholm does not comment on whether the progress he mentioned means planning some kind of changes already for the next season.

– Let’s just say that we listen and analyze feedback with a sensitive ear, and if necessary, we take action on the matter. This is only our third season with this current model, the previous model lasted 15 years.

Westerholm says that the league management has previously been criticized for the rapid pace of change. According to him, at the turn of the millennium, there were “wild tunings” in use, which were also changed every year.

– How radical changes will be made after three seasons of experience, I don’t want to speculate, Westerholm states.

We will publish the views of the coaching trio on the subject on Saturday.

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