27 pages. Such is the size of the document delivered by the court of Dendermonde which shows that Waasland-Beveren has its place in the Jupiler Pro League. A real bomb that must have made some teeth cringe on the side of the Pro League. Yesterday, after this decision, the body which manages professional football in Belgium had reacted laconically by explaining to have “taken note of the decision” while specifying that “the calendar 2020/2021 as presented on July 8, 2020, is henceforth without effect “.
What do we do now? Today, the Pro League must meet to draw the contours of the future season which should normally start this Saturday, August 7 with an enticing Club Brugge – Charleroi. A priori, three scenarios are possible. Explanations.
1) The wish of the leaders of the Pro League: a league with 16 and Waasland goes down to D1B
The Pro League sinks at all costs and reformulates its motivations with the CBAS. For this, it will have to reiterate the reasons which were intended to whistle the end of the championship without playing this 30th and last day. As a reminder, the CBAS had failed the Pro League and had ruled in favor of Waasland-Beveren at the beginning of July. This choice would have big repercussions on the calendar. The clubs would be awaiting the arbitration award and the first day, at least, would be delayed.
2) A Belgian championship at 17
Waasland-Beveren would then be the only ones satisfied with this new typically Belgian format. This would imply that a club would be bye every week. This formula would look more like an ABSSA calendar than that of our professional elite. Eleven Sports, the new rights holder, has already admitted to the Pro League that they don’t like the scheme.
Then, what future would we give to the D1B? With seven clubs at the start, it would lose (if it was still possible) once again a lot of credibility. This would mean that an amateur Division 1 club, which is financially strong enough to meet D1B requirements, would be drafted. This could be the case of Lierse who obtained his professional license. If no team is nominated, a hopeful team from a D1A club could possibly take over.
3) An old school Pro League with 18 teams
We have to go back to the 2008-2009 season to find any trace of an 18-team championship. At the time, Standard Bölöni had been champion by dominating the RSCA in the test matches. In this configuration, the Pro League would integrate Waasland-Beveren, Beerschot and OHL. This means that there would be 34 days of championships. What would happen to the POs? Playing forty games per season, except in the Championship in England, would be an exception in Europe. For Eleven Sports, this would not be tenable. The broadcaster provided 105 million euros for the initial content. He will certainly not agree to extend tickets for more meetings.
Once again, what place would we give to the D1B? It would only be played with 6 teams? It seems inconceivable for a professional championship. But we are probably not at the end of our surprises with the Pro League. Finally, Westerlo will also have a say in this configuration. The Kempeneers finished the regular season with the most points. Logically, the Kuipje club could challenge the rise of the two D1B finalists. In short, there are a lot of disadvantages if the Pro League chooses this formula.
The Pro League has its work cut out for it today. It must put an end to an incredible legal (and sporting) imbroglio which has once again tarnished its image and reputation. A typically Belgian dispute which should find its outcome at the end of the day.