Sporting Charleroi pull women out of Pro League saying licensing criteria are unsustainable

May 10 – Sporting Charleroi has become the latest club to withdraw from the Belgian women’s top-flight, citing the new demands by the league on clubs to fulfil licensing criteria as too great a burden to sustain the team. 

In a statement, Charleroi said that “the club no longer agrees with the vision of the Pro League, which in the future will impose financial and structural demands that are impossible to fulfil at this stage of the development of women’s football in Wallonia and the region, whether in terms of organisational structure (e.g. increased number of qualified coaches in the supervisory staff, number of professional contracts within the workforce, appointment of a CEO for the women’s section, etc.) or infrastructure works (e.g. re-sizing of playing fields, increase in lighting, lack of pitches, etc.).”

“These elements combined with a lack of recurring public and commercial income, lead Sporting de Charleroi to no longer be able to economically assume and continue on this path of professionalism desired by the authorities.”

Charleroi has promised that the team will continue in the second division, but the withdrawal is a blow to the new plans of the Pro League and the Belgian FA, RBFA, to modernise the women’s game and climb the ladder in Europe.

In March, the Pro League expressed the ambition to professionalise the game, generate more exposure, attract more sponsors and double the fan base every year. From the 2025-26 season onwards, the Pro League envisions a ten-club league, stipulating that, in the long run, 11 players per squad have a semi-professional contract.

Even before the league disclosed the plans, White Star Woluwe and KV Mechelen announced they’d take a step back from the top-flight next season because of financial difficulties.

In response, fans of KV Mechelen launched a crowdfunding campaign.

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