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Newly created BeNeLiga to be up & running in 2025?

New league to be formed in Europe? Belgium and the Netherlands could link up

March 18, 2021 By Michelle Bonsu
The governing body Belgium's Pro League have been seriously mooting the possibility of an interesting partnership with the Netherlands' Eredivisie.

Mergers are certainly not a strange occurrence in all types of business, and that includes football.

Over the years, we've had clubs come together to form a larger entity, and in American sports, two leagues have united to form a larger organization. Just look at the case of MLB (Major League Baseball), which was made up of the National League and the American League as legally separate entities until they finally united under one banner in 2000.

But it's not something fans have really seen in football - at least, not really in men's football.

That is, until now. Belgium's top tier (the Belgian Pro League) recently announced that they'd be in favor of combining their teams with the Netherlands' upper echelon (the Eredivisie). The two entities would form an organization called "BeNeLiga" - a play on the countries' names "Belgium" and "Netherlands".

Belgium and the Netherlands, of course, have long collaborated since the mid 1940's. The Benelux Union (a tri-partite group comprised of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) was initiated in 1944 as a customs and trade agreement between the three countries. These days, it's expanded to include academics (such as each country recognizing university degrees and other higher education diplomas from the other two nations as equivalent to theirs) politics, and infrastructure (for instance, all three nations work together to keep the roads as up to date and running as efficiently as feasible).

With regards to sports, there's already a joint entity featuring Belgium and the Netherlands. The BeNe League, which was created in 2015, is the highest level of professional hockey in both nations. 11 teams - five from Belgium and six from the Netherlands - presently make up the league, although there were as many as 16 teams participating at one point.

And in women's football, Belgium and the Netherlands combined to form the BeNe League in 2012. 14 teams were involved, but unfortunately, this union was short-lived as by 2015, the organization folded and all teams returned to featuring in their respective domestic leagues.

Still, despite this not working in the women's game, Belgium's Pro League executives still believe that it could pan out. A total of 18 teams (eight from Belgium and ten from Holland) will take part in this league, while the other remaining teams in Belgium will join up with others in the second division.

Belgium's selected octet so far are Anderlecht, Club Brugge, Standard Liege, Gent, Genk, Royal Antwerp, Charleroi, and another team which hasn't been decided.

The financial rewards from such a merger are pretty significant as well, with the proposed BeLeLiga potentially bringing in about $476 million per annum in marketing and television rights contracts.

If all goes according to plan, BeNeLux could be up and running in time for the 2025/2026 season in both Belgium and the Netherlands.


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