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Belgian, Dutch football stakeholders state ‘potential’ of BeNeLiga concept

Ajax and Standard Liege are two of the clubs involved in the BeNeLiga talks (by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

The concept of creating a league comprising the top football clubs from Belgium and the Netherlands has moved forward after the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) stated that initial studies into a ‘BeNeLiga’ have confirmed the “potential” of the project.

The KNVB has reported back on the findings of the first phase of a study conducted by professional services group Deloitte. This has come after five clubs from Belgium’s Pro League – AA Gent, Club Brugge, KRC Genk, RSC Anderlecht and Standard Liege – met this summer with six Dutch Eredivisie teams – AFC Ajax, AZ Alkmaar, FC Utrecht, Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven and Vitesse.

At this meeting, the clubs agreed as a first step to conduct a feasibility study into the theoretical added value of a BeNeLiga. This study was carried out by Deloitte, aided by the KNVB and its Belgian counterpart the URBSFA/KBVB.

The KNVB said in a statement: “The results of the first phase confirm that the new BeNeLiga has a potential significant value increase. Based on the current findings, the initiators decided that there is sufficient reason to proceed to a second phase of the feasibility study. Among other things, the focus will be on the competition format of the BeNeLiga, its effects on the various competitions, as well as an impact analysis per club.”

The Eredivisie currently comprises 18 clubs, while the Pro League is made up of 16 teams. The KNVB added: “Such a competition seems to be an effective way of reducing the gap with the five largest European competitions, both financially and sportingly.

“Belgium and the Netherlands currently have two competitions that are in the middle bracket of Europe, but together they can become the sixth competition in Europe. The ambition to join the top five in Europe is also inspired by the changes currently being discussed at European level, with the risk that the playing field will be watered down to a mix of large and small competitions, in which the middle bracket disappears.”