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Examining the Health of Professional Football Clubs: Owners, Takeovers, and Financial Impact

How healthy is your favorite professional football club? Which club owners are doing well, and who should we ask questions about? Now that it is raining takeovers in Belgian football, this question is becoming increasingly important. 25 journalists and one professor looked for the answer for each club.

READ ALSO. “Paul Gheysens proves that you need a lot of patience and a very large war chest to succeed”: our football clubs examined by sports economist Wim Lagae

Since 2012, 15 of the 16 teams from the Jupiler Pro League and all nine Flemish Challenger Pro League teams have been acquired. 21 of the 28 professional teams are foreign-owned. In this takeover dance, it has become more important than ever who owns our football clubs. KV Oostende seems to be on the verge of death due to the speculations of the American venture capitalists of Pacific Media Group, but Union is experiencing a fairy tale thanks to the support of British data specialists. And Antwerp is champion and cup winner thanks to the money of Paul Gheysens, but suffers a record loss. Just how good – or bad – is that? To get answers to such questions we went, under the name ‘How healthy is your club?’ delve deeper into the work of the people who determine the fate of your favorite club, but who still receive far too little attention.

25 writing journalists from Nieuwsblad, Gazet van Antwerpen and Het Belang van Limburg worked together on this dossier. We have consulted the annual accounts of 16 Jupiler Pro League clubs and the 9 Flemish Challenger Pro League clubs since 2019, plus the capital increases that have since been published in the Belgian Official Gazette. Sports economist Wim Lagae (KU Leuven), who just wrote the book ‘Faster, bigger, crazier’ about the matter, provides an explanation for each club. Because being a good owner is about more than just sporting and financial results, our club watchers have also indicated what the investments are like off the field, the involvement and the Belgian contribution. This resulted in the separate reports below.

READ ALSO. “It’s the Wild West here”: since 2012, almost all our professional football clubs have had a new owner

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