Sunday, November 27, 2022

Legal Action Galore, Multiple Options To Fight For Justice In The Belgian League Debacle

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Broken Belgian Football Supporter
Musings about Belgian football mainly.

So last week I explained the clusterf*ck that happened in Belgium when it came to deciding how the season would be concluded. It was quite the story, and it still is so absurd knowing that some people still defend it, saying it’s logical and reasonable what happened. If you had not read last week’s article, I strongly recommend you to update yourself first about how greed and selfishness condemned Belgian football.

But as I said towards the end of the story, multiple people were looking into the possibility of fighting everything that happened. That is where we pick up again this week. To start, we’ll look at what Waasland-Beveren decided to do after being forcefully relegated. They launched a multi-phased plan to fight against the decision. First of all, they asked for a mediation meeting to just talk with the head of the competition regarding whether there is a way to come to a solution for this problem without having to take legal action.

Of course, since he was one of the people who constructed the mess and claimed it as a good achievement, not much was expected from this. And that is what happened; they just declined a meeting, they didn’t even want to talk. This started the next part of the plan.

This week they’ll finalise the paperwork, and they’ll contest the decision in front of the Belgian CAS. They’ll argue that the decision is not compliant with the regulations of the Belgian FA and their own regulations. Technical arguments will be made like how the general assembly was called together (it should be eight days beforehand, not just one day and with a changed agenda from that morning).

For the full argumentation, we’ll have to wait for the lawsuit to start (they’re obviously not giving all their arguments to the opposing party beforehand). If this doesn’t work there is a further step, and it’ll be taken to civil court. And then it won’t just be about the fact if everything went according to the regulations of the Belgian FA and professional competition organisation. In that instance, it will also be about the way the decision came to life and if this is something they can decide upon.

Secondly, the professional license of Royal Excel Mouscron will be fought since they’re owned by a player agent, and the Pro League doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it themselves. But this involves quite hefty risks, going to civil court can result in losing all the money the team would typically get from the media rights and even removal from the professional leagues.

Referee gestures during a match between Royal Excel Mouscron and Waasland-Beveren
Referee Lawrence Visser gestures during a soccer match between Royal Excel Mouscron and Waasland-Beveren, Saturday 07 March 2020 in Mouscron, on day 29 of the ‘Jupiler Pro League’ Belgian soccer championship season 2019-2020. (Photo by VIRGINIE LEFOUR/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

But punishing organisations for going to court is also against the law, so if these punishments are applied, that will be taken to court as well. Besides that, a second route is being followed where it’s not the club itself that is filing a complaint, but one of the major shareholders. Today it was made public that a major shareholder is filing a complaint at the Belgian Competition Regulator (this should be the equivalent of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK).

Also, they’re not alone in this, Antwerp and Virton; two other teams are joining the effort fighting the insane method which was taken to come to a decision, the multiple functions that conflict with each other by some of the presidents of clubs who are also president of the Belgian FA and Pro League. They argue that power is being abused to pressure others into a certain choice, which is forbidden and that some of the teams formed a cartel, which is also prohibited.

They even got support from a former owner of one of the professional teams who already made a testimony in support of the three teams. Antwerp is also taking it to the UEFA. In the meantime, the first case in front of the CAS is starting today with multiple (15-20) amateur teams battling the decision to recognise the unfinished classifications as the final classification and relegate and promote teams based on that.

The Belgian FA and Pro League have a hectic summer to look forward to with more and more people and teams fighting what happened. I think these are important signals for Hearts supporters and their management. There are so many ways that this decision can be resisted, show that you want to do everything to get justice for the team, and more will follow.

As supporters, we always hope and fight for our team until the last breath, and now more then ever it’s time for the management of teams to do the same and fight this battle until the end. This would be for the benefit of both the supporters to show that they stand with them and to get the justice so that a few teams don’t have to suffer all the consequences for a global pandemic while others can just continue as nothing happened.

Oh and if you were wondering what happened to the two teams who were pressured into still playing a final game even though the season is declared finished, that also took quite a nasty turn yesterday. This weekend the two teams agreed to play the game for promotion on the first or second of August, one week before the new season starts (until then they won’t know in which division they’ll play). Seems like it went quite ok, right? Well, it wasn’t over.

The date was set, and it was first said that this game would be played with the new rosters of the teams (since the season starts a week later) and that they would change the regulations so that this would be possible. The team that is 1-0 up is now contesting this now that the date is officialised. They say that the game has to be played with the players who were on the roster when the game was supposed to be played this season. Because otherwise, it would not be representative.

But this poses a big problem (not for them): 15 of the 27 players of Leuven (the opponent) are out of contract at the end of June 12. Beerschot is now trying to force them into playing it with a B-side. The Belgian FA themselves now said that this is a vacuum in the regulations and that they’ll have to look how they can solve it. But this has upset quite a lot of people, not least everyone involved with Leuven.

Perhaps we will get even more trials with Leuven joining the others if they’re forced to play with a B-side. With only one certainty for the next few months: nothing is certain at this point. However, damn it, we’ll fight until the end to get justice, cause that is what we deserve as passionate fans of this game and our teams.

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