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Top clubs want to change the competition format: competition with fourteen and play-offs without halving points

With how many points ahead will Union start the hunt for its first post-war title? The halving of points for the play-offs still looks like a punishment for the teams that have worked best throughout the season and see their diligently built lead shrink in the final stretch. If it were up to eight of our most important clubs, it would disappear permanently from the 2025-2026 season.

The four largest Flemish clubs, Club Brugge, Antwerp, Genk and Ghent, the two most important Walloon clubs, Standard and Charleroi, and the two Brussels first division clubs, Union and Anderlecht, met three weeks ago in the Castle of Bever, the workspace of Club- chairman Bart Verhaeghe. The aim was to agree on the desired professional football competition in Belgium. The urgency was high. Some of our most important clubs are making big losses (Antwerp, Genk, Standard…) and the clubs see tinkering with the competition formula as a lever to generate more income. The main source of income, DAZN Eleven’s TV contract, expires after this season. The Pro League must draw up a “tender” or tender this year to attract new media partners.

Making way for Europe

But other sighs could also be heard at the ‘G8’ meeting in Strombeek-Bever. A majority of the top clubs believe that the Belgian football season currently has too many matches – 40 match days during the season. Only in the English Championship are there more. But the English second division very rarely play European football. The Belgian first divisions want more space on the calendar to play European football. The European cups will be extended from next season and will have more matches than was previously the case.

Limiting the number of matches could easily be done by abolishing the play-offs, as Club Brugge wants, but there is no support for this at clubs such as Genk and Ghent, even though AA Gent threatens to miss the Champions’ for the fourth time in a row on Sunday. Playoffs to grab. The top clubs do not want to make cuts in the top matches, but in the matches against the small teams. They believe that today there are too many clubs playing in the first division without added value. The Belgian competition authority does not allow strict licensing conditions to be imposed on clubs without infrastructure or large supporters that are bought up by wealthy patrons. The only way to deny those teams access to the elite is to reduce the group of first division teams and to reduce the ‘relegation gap’ (today three clubs can drop) again.

Massage work needed

After a long meeting session in Bever, a compromise was eventually reached. The eight top clubs believe that professional football is only viable for 20 professional clubs in Belgium and want the Pro League to investigate a competition formula with 14 teams in the top division and 6 in the second. After 26 matchdays in the regular competition, the top six would compete for the title without halving points. This brings the total number of matches to 36, four fewer than today.

Pro League CEO Lorin Parys read the G8’s question at the Pro League general meeting on Tuesday. Massive work will still be needed to achieve the intended two-thirds majority of votes. Even though the system of multiple voting rights still exists (the largest five clubs have three votes, the other first division two and the second division one), the G8 does not yet get half of the votes out of 25 professional clubs. Most other first division teams are in favor of a league of 18 or 20, without play-offs.

The Pro League will meet at the beginning of June to determine the competition formula and the tender for the new media contract. To convince the smaller clubs, concessions and hard cash will be needed. MR chairman Georges-Louis Bouchez, chairman of second division Francs Borains, gave a demonstration on Tuesday by arriving late, but then quickly asking for the microphone to argue for a redistribution of resources in favor of the small clubs . The knot now has to be untangled by CEO Lorin Parys.

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