By Samindra Kunti
December 22 – Belgian businessman Marc Coucke is the surprise new owner of Belgian giants Anderlecht. The pharmaceutical entrepreneur has obtained a majority stake in the club for an undisclosed fee.
It doesn’t happen too often in football, but when two dogs quarrel over a bone, a third one runs away with it. In a remarkable coup de théâtre Coucke secured a majority stake in Anderlecht on Wednesday. Wouter Vandenhaute, a local media mogul, and Paul Gheysens, a local real estate developer and one of the forces behind Brussels’ failed Eurostadium, were the front runners to takeover Anderlecht.
Ultimately, Coucke was the preferred choice of the Anderlecht board and the Vanden Stock family. “It pleases me to look back at the time when my father and my family owned the club, but it is time to pass on the baton, so RSC Anderlecht can always remain RSC Anderlecht,” said Anderlecht president Roger Vanden Stock.
Coucke, 52, founded over-the-counter medicines group Omega Pharma, which he sold to US company Perrigo in late 2014 for €3.6 billion (£3.2 billion). He is also the owner of Belgian topflight club KV Oostende. Coucke will have to step aside at Oostende to avoid a conflict of interest. “KVO is the club of my heart,” reacted Coucke. “I have been a fan since I was five and that will always remain so.”
He will take a 70% stake at Anderlecht with the rest remaining in the hands of a number of minority stakeholders, amongst them members of the Vanden Stock clan. Anderlecht wants to complete the final negotiation of the deal before the end of the year.
This season the Brussels-based club has been struggling. They finished bottom of their Champions League group and labour on in the domestic league after a heavy 5-0 defeat against perennial rivals Club Brugge. They sit in third place, 13 points behind league leaders Brugge and five adrift of a Champions League spot.
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