Belgian Pro League clubs have voted in favour of merging with teams from the Netherlands' Eredivisie to form a cross-border league called the BeNeLiga; critics say any such move would favour big teams; no formal proposal has been unveiled
Tuesday 16 March 2021 19:16, UK
Belgium's leading football clubs have voted in favour of a possible cross-border league with the top Eredivisie teams from the Netherlands.
The Belgian Pro League said on Tuesday its general assembly unanimously voted in favour of an "agreement in principle" for what it calls the BeNeLiga.
"This ambition is based both on the respect of the big clubs' sporting ambitions, and on the need for economic stability for the other professional clubs," the Pro League said. "The 25 clubs are unanimous in their desire to give the BeNeLiga a fair chance."
The details and format have been discussed for months between Dutch and Belgian clubs but a formal proposal has yet to be unveiled. The project has raised concerns among supporters' groups fearing it would favour only big clubs.
The cross Belgium and Netherlands top-flight league would include eight Belgian teams and 10 Dutch teams. Belgium will also have its own domestic competition, separate to this, for smaller clubs. Those 10 remaining clubs in the Pro League would go into a separate domestic league together with the eight clubs in the Belgian second division.
The proposed eight Belgian clubs for the BeNeLiga will likely be: Club Brugge, Anderlecht, Standard Liege, Gent, Genk, Royal Antwerp, Charleroi, and an eighth club which is yet to be decided.
After years of the idea being criticised by the lower ProLeague sides, now is the first time there has been support from the smaller clubs who would not go into the BeNeLiga.
Last year, Belgian media reported the consulting company Deloitte calculated that a merger could generate up to 400 million euros ($476m) a year in marketing and television rights deals.
In its statement, the Pro League said the BeNeLiga should guarantee the financial stability of the professional clubs which won't take part in the new competition through the creation of a new national top league.