February 11 – Belgium’s professional clubs suffered a combined record loss of €87 million in the 2018-19 season, the Belgian FA (KBVB) has revealed. Anderlecht incurred the lion’s share with €25 million.
The financial results did not come as a surprise, but still revealed the commercial struggle of life in the top two divisions of the Belgian football pyramid. From the 23 professionals clubs in division 1A and 1B (Virton had not turned professional yet) just five clubs – Club Brugge, Charleroi, STVV, AA Gent and Waasland-Beveren – were profitable.
In the Pro League, Brugge top the table and they lead the way when it comes to sound financial operations. The club recorded a €7 million profit. Charleroi enjoyed a surplus of almost €4 million.
Last season, Belgian football introduced the system of financial fair play including the rule that clubs cannot outspend their income by €30 million over the course of three seasons. Anderlecht had an injection of capital of €27.3 million. Antwerp, Cercle Brugge, owned by AS Monaco, and second-division club OH Leuven, owned by the King Power Group, also received substantial cash injections.
Even so, the substantial losses across the two top leagues suggest that there is too much irresponsible spending and, at times, a lack of long-term planning. Anderlecht is staring at a deficit in excess of just over €25 million. Antwerp has a loss of €10.5 million and KV Oostende incurred losses of just over €9 million.
In another worrying trend, no club in the second division – 1B – turned a profit. With the exception of red lantern Lokeren, all 1B clubs have foreign ownership.
In 2021, the League will assess the clubs’ compliance with the new financial fair-play rules for the first time. Infractions will not be sanctioned with the withdrawal of club licenses.
The figures were released as the clubs are negotiating a new TV rights deal. Local media report that Eleven Sports will beat current rights holders Telenet and Proximus to the deal with an offer in excess of €100 million, €20 million more than the previous deal. The clubs have argued over how to carve up the extra slice of the cake. The top five club claimed they were entitled to the extra money, but it seems the other 19 clubs will get a share of 20%.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1582499156labto1582499156ofdlr1582499156owedi1582499156sni@t1582499156catno1582499156c1582499156