If there is one thing that is certain in Belgian football, it is that two things cannot be understood by outsiders. First of all, of course, the master numbers and the associated mergers. To understand that, you have to combine a completed mathematics study with a master’s degree in history. The second inimitable in Belgium is the football pyramid and the associated play-offs. Fortunately, they are making good progress there at the moment. And with all the results of this season, the First Division is getting more and more shape. Two more PhD students and the First Division A and B are complete again for next year.
From 30 to 32
The two highest divisions will be overhauled in the transition from this to next season. The First Division A (the Jupiler Pro League) will go from 18 to 16 clubs, while the First Division B (the Challenger Pro League) will go from 12 to 16 clubs. In total, Belgian professional football will therefore consist of 32 clubs instead of 30.
The new compositions are organized by adapted promotion/relegation schemes. For example, three clubs from the First Division A are relegated to the First Division B, while only one club takes the opposite route. In the First Division B, the opposite happens. There, only one team is relegated to the First National (the highest amateur level) while three teams are promoted from the First National.
At this point, a large part of those changes are already clear. KV Oostende, Zulte Waregem and RFC Seraing dropped from 1A to 1B. Coming weekend it will become clear whether RWDM or SK Beveren (not to be confused with KSK Beveren) are going the opposite way. Last weekend it became clear that Royal Excelsior Virton will have to continue as an amateur club and will be replaced by Patro Eijsden Maasmechelen and RFC Luik. The third PhD student will be Francs Borains or Raal La Louvière. Francs Borains has one point ahead, but La Louvière has a better goal difference.
After the refurbishment, promotion relegation between 1A and 1B also looks quite logical. Clubs play a regular competition over thirty games with the two highest ranked teams from 1B swapping places with the two lowest ranked teams from 1A. The numbers three to six then play a play-off competition to fight with the number fourteen from 1A who will play in 1A the following year. From 1B, the last two are relegated to the First national.
The four promising teams, this and next season Anderlecht, Club Brugge, Racing Genk and Standard, are excluded from promotion to 1B. So far it all sounds pretty logical. Let’s hope they keep it logical for a while then too. In the meantime, can we vinckers pick out the gems or fill the new competitions again. Because no matter how they fill or shape the competitions. There is a lot to enjoy at our southern neighbors!