Belgian Competition Authority sets teeth in Pro League and …

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Pro League chairman Peter Croonen and CEO Pierre François
Photo: BELGA

The Belgian Competition Authority (BMA) is getting its teeth into the Pro League. The competition watchdog in our country will investigate whether the big clubs have unfair power over the small ones. Among other things, the principle of multiple voting rights and the distribution of TV money are examined. The transfers and brokers are also critically examined.

The 25 professional clubs in our country will meet next Wednesday for the first time since the turbulent end of last season. The competition formula was changed a few days before the start in order to avoid legal proceedings. But the club leaders hoping to get on with the order of the day may be there for the effort. The Belgian Competition Authority (BMA) surprised the clubs with a questionnaire about a range of subjects. For example, they want to know how multiple voting rights works and how the TV money was distributed.

The BMA’s questionnaire is a result of the complaint that Waasland-Beveren filed with the competition watchdog. At first, the Waaslanders caught the net. They had hoped to be added to 1A with a provisional measure, but the BMA did not immediately follow. It was only when the Belgian Court of Arbitration for Sport (BAS) and the corporate court in Dendermonde Waasland-Beveren agreed that the Pro League went overboard and opted for a formula with eighteen.

Substantial investigation

Meanwhile, the BMA also conducted an investigation on the merits. The Competition Authority also received complaints from Antwerp (against Mehdi Bayat), Virton (against just about everything and everyone) and Roland Duchâtelet. It seems that, based on all the complaints, the BMA has compiled a list of questions to learn more about how the Pro League works. It wants to know whether multiple voting rights give the big clubs too much power over the small ones and whether this also affects the distribution of TV money, for example.

In addition, the BMA asks the clubs to map out all transfer flows. This may indicate that the BMA is also investigating the influence of certain brokers in our football. The clubs must return the questionnaires in mid-October. Anyone who does not cooperate risks a sanction. It is uncertain when the investigation will be completed and what measures will be taken. However, it has been established that universal voting rights will be discussed again at next week’s general meeting.





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