Flanders wants to curb foreign takeovers in amateur soccer

As in professional soccer, more and more Belgian amateur clubs are falling into the hands of foreign investors. Flemish Sports minister Ben Weyts (N-VA) has therefore devised a plan to prevent Flemish amateur soccer from becoming a "farm league", writes De Morgen on Friday.

At first, Weyts was not impressed by foreign investment in Flemish amateur clubs. Until the Saudis bought Diest football club "to invest in the training centre". The minister has therefore come up with a three-pronged plan to prevent Flemish amateur soccer from becoming what he calls "farm leagues", cheap vehicles in a big carousel of players and resources.

Many teams have negative equity

First, the clubs have to become financially healthier. "The nine Flemish clubs at the highest amateur level have a combined loss of 3.7 million euros," says Weyts. "Many teams also have negative equity. That makes it more tempting to accept an investment offer."

Assistance with investment files

In addition, the minister wants to help clubs examine investment files. "There is knowledge and expertise at the Royal Belgian Football Association and the amateur wing, Voetbal Vlaanderen, to dig deep," he says.

A proposal is also before the European Court of Justice to test whether clubs can be obliged to field a minimum number of club-trained players. This would encourage in-house youth development.

To prevent Flemish amateur football from falling too much into foreign hands, several parties also propose to anchor this branch of the sport locally. Concrete changes are still to come, but political consensus is remarkably high.



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