Belgian clubs vote in favour o...


Belgian clubs vote in favour of BeNeLeague merger with Dutch Eredivise

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Belgian Pro League clubs have given their unanimous support to a proposed merger with the Dutch Eredivisie. 

The BeNeLeague would combine the eighteen best clubs from the two leagues into one competition.

The idea was first made public in 2019 by Club Bruges owner Bart Verhaeghe, who wants to see top clubs from Belgium and the Netherlands challenging in Europe on a consistent basis.

Verhaeghe told Le Monde two-years ago, "We are in the process of creating a league with the Netherlands which can reduce our gap with the “big five”, which will open up a market of 28-million consumers."

The BeNeLeague has been publicly backed by Anderlecht head coach Vincent Kompany and Feyenoord forwards coach Robin Van Persie.

Belgian and Dutch partnership in football is no novelty. Together they successfully hosted the European Championships in 2000, the first countries to share such a tournament.

Following a meeting of the Belgian professional clubs association on Tuesday, the released a statement saying, "There is unanimous support to give the possible realisation of the BeNeLeague every opportunity.

"The management of the Pro League will now take an active role in this"

They added, "The BeNeLeague must be accompanied by the assurance of economic stability for the other professional clubs through the creation of one national top league based on sustainable licensing and competition rules.

"The vision also means that the U23 teams of the professional clubs can compete in the National Amateur series."

The proposal would see the Eredivisie's 'big six' (Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord, AZ, Utrecht and Vitesse Arhnem) partnered with Belgium's top five clubs (Anderlecht, Club Bruges, Standard de Liège, KAA Ghent and Genk). The remaining seven places would be determined on cumulative results over the last five seasons.

Backers of the BeNeLeague claim their product could raise over €450million in television revenues. The current domestic TV rights deals in both countries expire in 2025.

Speaking to La Tribune last month, Anderlecht boss Vincent Kompany said, "I am totally for it, it is a question of survival."

The former Manchester City skipper sees the proposal as a means of the region's top country's safeguarding themselves from a mooted European Super League.

"The faster it happens, the better it is," Kompany said, "Soon, the big clubs will isolate themselves, create separate championships and their market will double, triple, etc.

"And us, we will remain in a small market, with few means to progress. And if ever we double the market or expand borders, we will be able to regain greater competitiveness."

However, European football's governing body UEFA does not want to see domestic leagues abolished.

Speaking late last year, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said, "At UEFA, we are thinking about regional leagues and we have been talking to the leaders of national federations about that.

"More and more countries are interested in the possibility of a regional league because that would increase the value of clubs, as well as income from sponsors and the sale of TV rights.

"UEFA, in principle, has nothing against regional leagues. The main problem is how to go from those leagues to European competitions. UEFA would have to solve that problem.

"In addition, we do not want to create some regional leagues that would destroy national championships. So, regional leagues are a serious undertaking and nothing concrete has been decided yet, but it is being considered."

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AZ Ajax Anderlecht BeNeLeague BeNe League Belgium Club Bruges Eredivisie Feyenoord Jupiler Pro League Netherlands PSV Eindhoven Vincent Kompany

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