Belgian First Division A
The Belgian First Division A is the top league competition for association football clubs in Belgium. Following the 2015–16 season it was renamed from the Belgian Pro League, contested by 16 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Belgian First Division B. Seasons run from late July to early May, with teams playing 30 matches each in the regular season, play-offs 1 are contested by the top 6 clubs in the regular season, with each club playing each other twice. Play-offs 2 are contested by teams ranked 7 to 15 in the regular season, the team finishing in 16th place is relegated. As of 2014 the league was sponsored by AB InBev, brewers of Jupiler beer, and officially known as Jupiler Pro League, the competition was created in 1895 by the Royal Belgian Football Association and was first won by FC Liégeois. Of the 74 clubs to have competed in the first division since its creation,15 have been crowned champions of Belgium, RSC Anderlecht is the most successful league club with 33 titles, followed by Club Brugge KV, Union Saint-Gilloise and Standard Liège. It is currently ranked 10th in the UEFA rankings of leagues based on performances in European competitions over the last five-years. The competition was ranked 3rd when the UEFA first published their ranking in 1979 and also the year in 1980. FC Liégeois became the first champion of Belgium, the first 8 titles in Belgian football were all won by FC Liégeois or RC de Bruxelles. There was no promotion and relegation system at the time but the last two clubs of the league withdrew and a new club entered the competition, during the 1896–97 season, SC de Bruxelles withdrew so the 1897–98 season was played among 5 clubs only. In the seasons 1898–99 and 1899–1900, the association introduced a new format with two leagues at the top level and then a final game in two legs. The format though changed back to one league with 9 clubs in 1900–01, in 1904–05 the championship was organised with one league of 11 teams. In 1906–07, Union Saint-Gilloise won their 4th consecutive title as RC de Bruxelles had from 1899–1900 to 1902–03, both clubs claimed the next 3 titles before CS Brugeois won their first title, finishing one point ahead their rival of FC Brugeois. As World War I approached, Daring Club de Bruxelles confirmed its status of challenger, even winning the title in 1911–12, only Union Saint-Gilloise could face them in that period, winning the 1912–13 championship with a better goal difference. Since 1911–12, two clubs are relegated each year to the Promotion and two clubs from the Promotion are promoted, during World War I, the football championship was suspended. It resumed in 1919–20 with FC Brugeois claiming their first title after 5-second places, among which were 2 lost final games, the challengers at the time were CS Brugeois, Union Saint-Gilloise, Daring Club de Bruxelles and Standard Club Liégeois. Starting 25 December 1932, Union Saint-Gilloise had a record 60 games unbeaten run in the championship, winning the 1932–33, 1933–34, the rival of Union during this period was Daring Club de Bruxelles. They claimed the two championships
Royale Union Saint-Gilloise
The club is one of the most successful in the history of Belgian football, but currently plays in the second division. The club won eleven Belgian championships between 1904 and 1935, making it the most successful Belgian club before World War II, the team colours are blue and yellow and its matricule is the n°10. The club was founded in 1897 and obtained its first of eleven titles as Champion of Belgium in 1904, from 1933 to 1935 the team played 60 consecutive matches undefeated, setting a still unbeaten record in Belgium. In the early 1900s the club also had a dominant spell in some of the very first European Cup competitions that took place, prior to officially sanctioned UEFA competitions. Between 1958 and 1965 the club had a spell of European success, playing the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. In 1963, however, the club was relegated to the second division, note, Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality, head Coach Marc Grosjean Assistant Coach Grégory Vanmelkebeke Goalkeeper Coach Florent Delstanche Kiné Ali Errachidi Nick Parijs Christophe Goumotsios Official website
Royal Antwerp F.C.
Royal Antwerp Football Club, often simply referred to as Antwerp, is a Belgian football club based in the city of Antwerp. At first there was no organised football played by its members, until 1887 when the division was founded with an own board. In 1900, most of the left the club for the new neighbouring club of K. Beerschot V. A. C. Royal Antwerp have won four Belgian league titles so far, as well as two Belgian Cups, the club is also the latest Belgian team to have reached a UEFA competition final, the 1993 European Cup Winners Cup Final, where they lost 3–1 against Parma at Wembley Stadium. They have been playing in the Belgian Second Division since 2004–05, royal Antwerp play their home matches at the Bosuilstadion since 1923. Royal Antwerp colours are red and white, an example is Dong Fangzhuo, who was unable to play for United, immediately due to work permit problems and was loaned to allow him to gain first team experience. Despite being one of Belgiums best-supported clubs, Antwerp have been under-achievers for several years and they have not won a league title since 1957, and have spent several seasons in the second division. They were last promoted to the top flight in 2000, only to be relegated in order in 2004. They returned to the first division after 13 years in 2017, the best football players of Antwerp and Rotterdam contested a yearly match between 1909 and 1959 for the Meuse- and Scheldt Cup. It was agreed to play the game at stadium De Bosuil in Antwerp, the cup was provided in 1909 by P. Havenith from Antwerp and Kees van Hasselt from Rotterdam. Note, Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules, players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality
Cercle Brugge K.S.V.
Cercle Brugge Koninklijke Sportvereniging is a Belgian professional football club based in Bruges. Cercle have played in the Belgian Pro League since the 2003–04 season, the club play home games at the Jan Breydel Stadium, which they share with fierce rivals Club Brugge. Cercle Brugge won their first national title in 1911, and won two titles before the Second World War. The side also won the Belgian Cup in 1927 and in 1985, Cercle Brugge was founded on 9 April 1899 as Cercle Sportif Brugeois by former students of the Saint Francis Xavier Institute, colloquially known as De Frères in Bruges. Originally, the focused on five sports, football, cricket, lawn tennis. Cercle Brugge became a member of the Royal Belgian Football Association in 1900 and were awarded matricule number 12, Cercle achieved their first success in the 1902 Henri Fraeys Cup, defeating Olympique Iris Club Lillois and US Tourcoing. After winning another few friendly cups Cercle achieved their first big success, Cercle ended a single point ahead of their main rivals FC Bruges, after their confrontation on the seasons last matchday ended in a 1–1 draw. Three years later Belgian football was devastated by World War I, former player Alphonse Six also lost his life. Cercle resumed competitive football in 1919 with an almost completely new team, Louis Saeys was the only player to remain in the team from before the war. Expectations were low, but the finished third in the league. The monument still exists and now stands in front of the Jan Breydel Stadium, in 1923 Cercle extended their stadium facilities again, moving 100 metres from their old pitch to a newly built stadium. This ground, later named the Edgard De Smedt Stadium, became Cercles home for more than 50 years, in 1924 the club changed its name from Cercle Sportif Brugeois to Royal Cercle Sportif Brugeois. The club embarked on a period, led by two key players, Belgian record international Florimond Vanhalme and player-coach Louis Saeys. Cercle led the league midway through the 1925–26 season, but player injuries led to results that saw them finish in fifth place. Cercle made a start to the 1929–30 season, entering the mid-season winter break in sixth place. Nonetheless, by the weekend of the season they had narrowed the gap to a single point. The side then faced a wait for the result of Antwerp against 10th placed Standard Liège. In the end, the news reached team captain Florimond Vanhalme that Antwerp had lost 3–5, meaning Cercle had won their third, because of this title Cercle were invited to take part in the Coupe des Nations, which is regarded as the predecessor of the Champions League
Their football team have been playing in the Belgian Pro League since the 1989–90 season. They won the league once, in 2014–15, in addition to three Belgian Cup victories. Ghent played their matches in the Jules Ottenstadion in Gentbrugge from 1920 until 2013. Their team colours are blue and white, the principal sponsor is the financial institution VDK NV. The field hockey and track and field divisions were founded in 1864, the club was then known under its French name La Gantoise. They changed their name to the current Dutch version in 1971, the football division opened in 1900. The nickname of the club is De Buffalos, a term coined after a visit of the original Buffalo Bill, Ghent enjoyed a first spell at the highest level in Belgian football between 1913–14 and 1928–29, and a second one from 1936–37 to 1966–67. In the 1970s and 1980s, the club had several promotions and relegations between the first and second divisions, to back at the highest level in 1989. The club reached the 1991–92 UEFA Cup quarter-finals, which is their best achievement ever in European competitions, in 1864, an association called the Société Gymnastique la Gantoise, which was tasked with promoting gymnastics, was founded. Some branches quickly became independent and in 1891 the team merged with the Association Athlétique, in this context, the athletics team KAA Gent was founded. In the last decade of the 19th century, organized football was introduced in Ghent, different small teams were founded and some merged into Racing Club Gantois on 1 April 1899, which would later become the biggest challenger of KAA Gent. Only in 1900, a section was founded by the students of the College of Melle. The first president of the team was doctor Hector Priem, the games were played on the Carpentierplein, which was situated at the crossroads of the Kortrijksesteenweg, the Clementinalaan, the Oostendestraat and the Astridlaan. Initially, the black and white were chosen, but by 31 October 1900, when the team became an official member. On 15 November 1900, the first regular game was played, in January 1901, the team played against Racing Club Gantois, which was, at that time, the larger of the two. KAA Gent lost the game with 10–0, in 1901 AA La Gantoise played its first games in the lower divisions. For the first few years, the team played in the Belgian Second Division. In 1904 the team moved to the Mussenstraat, in 1913, the World Exposition was held at that place, and the team moved once more, this time to the Albertlaan
Koninklijke Racing Club Gent is a Belgian association football club from the city of Ghent, East Flanders. It is currently playing in the Promotion A, i. e. the fourth level in the Belgian football league system, the club underwent 5 merges and changed its name many times. It achieved its best ranking in 1925 and 1929 with a 5th place in the first division, the club was founded in the late nineteenth century with the fusion between Athletic Club Gantois, F. C. Gantois and Sport Pédestre Gantois. The new club named Racing Club de Gand registered to the Belgian Football Association in the late 1890s and it took part to the 1898–99 and 1899–1900 seasons in the first division B. Back in 1908 at the top level, the finished last. It lost the final of the first Belgian Cup in history in 1912, from 1911 to 1935 R. C. de Gand played in the first division and so did its rivals K. A. A. The club had changed its name to R. R. C. de Gand in 1925. In 1952 the club played in the first division again but this time for its last season at this stage, three years later it was relegated to the third division from which it would never be promoted. Gent merged with F. C. Heirnis Gent to become R. R. C and it then changed back briefly to R. R. C. Gent in 1999 and merged with K. V. V, standaard Meulestede in 2000 to become R. R. C. In 2002 the club merged with K. F. C, oostakker and changed its name to K. R. C. Finally in 2016 the club changed its name to K. R. C, updated 29 December 2015 Note, Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality
Koninklijke Lierse Sportkring, often simply known as Lierse, is a Belgian professional football club from the city of Lier in the Antwerp province. Lierse have won four titles and two Belgian Cups. Lierse is one of the six Belgian clubs to have played in the UEFA Champions League group stage, the club was founded in 1906 and they first promoted to the first division in 1927–28. Lierse was successful in the first division until the end of World War II, at the end of the 1947–48 season, they were relegated to the second division. Lierse enjoyed two spells at the highest level, each time with a championship win. Lierse spent five years in first division between 2010–11 and 2014–15, but currently play in the second division. Lierse play their matches at the Herman Vanderpoortenstadion in Lier. They have yellow and black colours, the club has recently been bought by Egyptian businessman Maged Samy, who also owns KV Turnhout and Wadi Degla in Egypt. The most capped player at the club is Bernard Voorhoof with 61 caps for Belgium, with 30 goals, he is the topscorer of the Belgium national football team together with Paul Van Himst. In 1904, Gustaaf Van Den Roye learned about the game of football in Antwerp and he bought an authentic ball to play the game in his hometown of Lier. The first games were played on a terrain owned by the local graf Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde, local farmers were not pleased and the police had to intervene, who prohibited any further games. The graf was informed of what happened and he asked Van Den Roye to come, on March 6,1906, during a meeting in a local pub called De Roskam a football club was founded, named Liersche Sportkring. Lierse was born and a first board was established, Gerard Quaeyhaegens as chairman, Gust van den Roye as secretary, graf Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde agreed to become honorary chairman. Two years after its foundation, in September 1908, Lierse became a member of the Royal Belgian Football Association, where it started playing in the lowest tier of Belgian Football. In 1913 the club made its first impact in Belgian football, the club climbed through the ranks of Belgian football. In 1922, after winning a national play-off round Lierse gained promotion to the levels of Belgian Football. Five years after reaching the levels, in 1927, Lierse became champions in division 1 the second tier of Belgian football. In doing so, Lierse succeeded promotion to the highest level for the first time in its history and this first spell in the top tier proved to be very successful immediately as Lierse became champions for the first time in 1932
Mechelen is a Belgian association football club from Mechelen in the Antwerp province. It is a rival of KV Mechelen. The clubs best position ever is a place in the first division 1951–52. KRC Mechelen also reached the final of the Belgian Cup in 1954, however, the team has been falling through the Belgian football league system since 2015 and in the 2017-18 season it will be playing in the Belgian Provincial Leagues for the first time since 1906. Founded in August 1904 as Racing Club de Malines, the club registered with the two years later on the 22 June 1906 and received the matricule n°24. The name of the club changed three times, first the suffix Société Royale was added, then the name was translated into Dutch becoming Koninklijke Racing Club Mechelen, Racing Mechelen played its first season in the first division in 1910–11 and finished 8th of 12 teams. By this time, rival FC Malines, later called KV Mechelen, was playing in second division, the following season, Racing ended 11th just one point away from Beerschot and was relegated. Just before World War I, Racing finished second in their division while FC Malines was third, thus RC Malines were promoted, playing the following season in the first division, which was played in 1919–20. Two years after that FC Malines was playing in the first division too, in 1929 and 1930 after having spent one year in the second division, the club grabbed third place in the first division. A record it would beat in 1952 with a place after a new sequence of two third places. In 1954 it qualified for the game of the Belgian Cup. Afterwards, the fell to the second division and has rarely played at a higher level in recent decades. The Oscar Vankesbeeckstadion is a stadium in the Belgian city of Mechelen. The stadium is located just to the north of the centre of town over the River Dijle and it was built in 1923 and is named after the former president of the club, Oscar Van Kesbeeck who was a Flemish Liberal Politician. The current capacity of the stadium is 13,687, of which there are around 1,900 seats, the Oscar Vankesbeeckstadion is located just under a mile away from Argosstadion Achter de Kazerne, which is home to rivals KV Mechelen. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality, note, Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality
Yellow Red Koninklijke Voetbalclub Mechelen, is a Belgian professional football club based in Mechelen in the Antwerp province. KV Mechelen plays in the Belgian Pro League and they have won four Belgian championships and one Belgian Cup, as well as the 1987–88 European Cup Winners Cup and the 1988 European Super Cup. They collected all of their honours in the 1940s and in the 1980s, KV Mechelen was founded in 1904 and, in 1921–22, promoted to the first division. After two successive relegation and promotion, they were back for good between 1928–29 and 1955–56, in the 1960s and 1970s, the club had several promotions and relegations between the first and second division. From 1983–84 to 1996–97, they had a successful first division spell, with a title and several 2nd, during that period, they also won a European Cup Winners Cup and they reached the same competition semi-finals as well as the European Cup quarter-finals. KV Mechelen declined in the late 1990s though they had two spells at the highest level from 1999–00 to 2000–01 and in 2002–03. At the end of season, the club did not receive their Belgian professional football license. They were thus relegated to the division with a 9-point penalty. After two promotions in 2004–05 and in 2006–07, KV Mechelen has come back to the first division, the club outfits are a striped yellow and red shirt with black shorts and socks. They play their matches at the Argosstadion Achter de Kazerne. The stadium has been named so because there used to be next to stadium. KV Mechelen fans have a rivalry with KRC Mechelen. The club was founded in 1904, a few months after the birth of city rival KRC Mechelen, the club had a first successful period in the 1940s. During World War II, in 1943, the club won their first domestic title, the second title came a few years later, in 1946, and in 1948 the club was successful again. After that, the club fell back, in 1954, they managed to finish third, only one point behind champions Anderlecht, but that was their last good season. Two years later, Mechelen was relegated to second division, during the 1960s and the 1970s, Mechelen went up and down between the first and second division. The club enjoyed a spell of both domestic and European success in the period of 1987–92, during these 5 seasons, Mechelen won one Belgian championship and one Belgian cup title. They also finished 2nd in the Belgian league twice and lost the Belgian cup final twice, after winning the domestic cup title in 1987, and hence qualifying for the European Cup Winners Cup, they completed the extraordinary achievement of winning this tournament in 1988
Koninklijke Beerschot Antwerpen Club, simply known as Beerschot AC, was a Belgian football club based in southern Antwerp. The club was established in 1999 as the result of the merger between K Beerschot VAC and KFC Germinal Ekeren, from which they took over the matricule number and history. Prior to the merger, Germinal Ekeren had been a first division club for 10 years, the club won 2 Belgian Cups, one as Germinal Ekeren in 1997, the other as Germinal Beerschot in 2005. Their best league ranking was a 3rd place in 1995–96 and in 1997–98, following the merger in 1999, the club moved from the Veltwijckstadion in the municipality of Ekeren to the Olympisch Stadion in the Kiel neighbourhood in Antwerp. Their outfits mixed the yellow and red of Germinal Ekeren with the purple of Beerschot and their biggest rival is Royal Antwerp FC. On 17 May 2011, the changed its name again to Koninklijke Beerschot Antwerpse Club or Beerschot AC. In addition, the set its motto to the Latin phrase Tene Quod Bene. After being relegated in 2012–13, the club went bankrupt at the end of the season and was removed from competition altogether, in June 2013 K. FC. O. Wilrijk unofficially merged with Beerschot AC into FCO Beerschot Wilrijk. This new club started in the first division of the Belgian Provincial leagues, in 1920 F. C. Germinal Ekeren was founded in the town of Ekeren, a northern suburb of Antwerp. Several years earlier, in 1899, Beerschot was founded at Het Kiel, an outskirt of Antwerp. In 1971 they added the prefix Koninklijk to their name, the team reached the top division in Belgian football in 1989 and finished 13th. They achieved their highest league position of third in 1996 and 1998, Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen kept the matricule n°3530 of Ekeren to keep their place in the first division, but retained the stadium of Beerschot, rebuilding it in the process. By keeping the matricule of Ekeren, the honours of Beerschot were considered to be distinct and separate from the new team, in 2004 further financial difficulties were experienced and Marc Brys, a Belgian football coach was brought in. He led the team to victory in the Belgian Cup that year, after only 7 matches in the Jupiler League 2005-06 season, he was fired due to bad results. The current coach is Glen De Boeck after the previous coach Jos Daerden left to become an assistant coach at Dutch club Twente, may 2013, Naamloze vennootschap Beerschot announced it will be liquidated. After having failed to present a plan to the Royal Belgian Football Association. Unable to attract enough financial means to continue playing in a division they decided upon liquidation. Late May 2013 the entourage and fans of Beerschot started negotiations with FCO. Wilrijk, in June 2013 when K. FC. O. Wilrijk its name into F. C. O