February 13 – The Belgian Pro League has awarded its new TV rights deal to Eleven Sports for a record €103 million in a five-year deal, but not all the clubs are happy with the proposed income distribution from the new agreement with both Antwerp and AA Gent opposing.
Eleven Sports beat current broadcasters Telenet and Proximus to the rights with an offer that was €20 million more than the previous deal. The top five clubs have claimed they are entitled to the extra money, much to the dismay of the other 19 clubs in Belgian’s two-tiered professional football pyramid.
“This is a historic result”, said Pro League chairman Peter Croonen at a news conference. “For the first time we have exceeded the €100 million mark and we have also included women’s football in the tender for the first time.”
“Ultimately, each club must individually agree to the individual sale of its rights. Twenty-two clubs have done so today, two clubs have decided not to.”
AA Gent and Antwerp voted against the deal. KV Mechelen, Zulte Waregem and Anderlecht did not vote. Those three clubs have ties to Telenet or Proximus respectively.
On the back of steady sporting progress, Antwerp believe that they belong to the top five clubs and hence deserve a greater share of the cash. The criteria to determine that select group of elite clubs range from commercial impact to TV audiences. “Antwerp rightly has the ambition to join the G5,” said Croonen. “It may take another 2, 3 or 4 years. Sooner or later it will happen.”
The feud comes in the same week as the news that Belgium’s professional clubs suffered a combined record loss of €87 million in the 2018-19 season. Anderlecht incurred the lion’s share with €25 million. Antwerp was also among the clubs that registered substantial losses.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1586424903labto1586424903ofdlr1586424903owedi1586424903sni@t1586424903catno1586424903c1586424903