The results at the end of the Jupiler League season ‘classic’ meant that Charleroi and Eupen had to play a series of matches to see who would be relegated and who would play a further round-robin with second division clubs. This was the so-called P03 (PlayOff 3).
Just above them, Lierse (in 14th place) were to be in the so-called P02, where the clubs finishing from 7th to 14th would play a series of matches. The main playoffs would be the P01, where the top six (Genk, Anderlecht, Club Brugge, Ghent, Standard Liege and Lokeren) would play each other in a mini-league to determine who would be champion.
Just before the playoffs were due to start, Eupen complained that Lierse had played KV Mechelen in February and included a non-qualified player (Jason Adesanya) in their squad. He did not play but the mere inclusion would have been enough to validate the match, as the Belgian FA’s rules concerning such an infringement are not in line with FIFA’s (where he would have had to have actually played for an infringement to be committed). Another point to note is that the match was to have originally been played in December 2010; that meant – according to the Belgian FA’s rules – that only players qualified in December could play in the postponed match.
Eupen demanded that the result of Lierse – KV Mechelen (that Lierse won) be annulled and the three points awarded to Mechelen. This would have meant that Lierse would be in P03 (playing Charleroi in the relegation playoffs), Eupen would be in P02 and – importantly – KV Mechelen would be in the main P01 series at the expense of Standard Liege.
Eupen went to court and the tribunal judge (of Eupen) suggested a compromise whereby there would be no relegation this season and there would be 18 clubs in the Jupiler League. The Pro League refused that compromise and said that the playoffs would go ahead this weekend as planned. They also claimed that the player in question (Adesanya) had qualified on the morning of the match, which was – incidentally – against the Belgian FA’s own rules.
The Eupen tribunal then declared that the matches planned for this weekend involving Eupen and Lierse were suspended due to the infringement of league rules by Lierse. It further stated that if the matches went ahead, the Pro League would be fined €500,000 (some reports still say €500,000 per match; it is not clear to anyone!). The latest news is that the Pro League intends to appeal against the tribunal’s decision and go ahead and play all matches as planned … and pay the fine if necessary. The Belgian FA has now supported the Pro League in its stance.
Two odd things among all of this:
Why have KV Mechelen never made a statement about this situation even though the Eupen complaint would have promoted them into the main playoffs (P01)?
Why did the Eupen tribunal only suspend two matches (involving Eupen and Lierse) and not the Anderlecht – Standard Liege match, despite Standard Liege being fully involved (and they would be moved out of the P01) in the case where Lierse is judged to have flouted Belgian FA (Pro League) rules?
This one will run and run.