Belgian soccer clubs favor merger with Netherlands teams

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium’s leading soccer clubs support a possible cross-border league with Netherlands teams.

The Belgian Pro League said on Tuesday its general assembly unanimously voted in favor of an “agreement in principle” for what it calls the BeNeLeague.

“This ambition is based both on the respect of the big clubs’ sporting ambitions, and on the need for economic stability for the other professional clubs,” the Pro League said. “The 25 clubs are unanimous in their desire to give the BeNeLeague a fair chance.”

The details and format have been discussed for months between Dutch and Belgian clubs but a formal proposal has yet to be unveiled. The project has raised concerns among supporters’ groups fearing it would favor only big clubs.

Last year, Belgian media reported the consulting company Deloitte calculated that a merger could generate up to 400 million euros ($476 million) a year in marketing and television rights deals.

In its statement, the Pro League said the BeNeLeague should guarantee the financial stability of the professional clubs which won’t take part in the new competition through the creation of a new national top league.

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