The Belgian second division starts tonight and – surprisingly – it only has eight clubs. In an effort to reduce the number of clubs facing financial ruin, the number of professional clubs in Belgium has been reduced from from 34 to 24: 16 in the Jupiler Pro League (the first division) and eight in the Proximus League (the second division). There will be stricter rules for clubs applying for a professional license and they must prove they have financial backing to ensure long-term survival.
As is the vogue for misleading names for leagues, the divisions have been called, respectively, League 1A and League 1B.
The eight clubs in the second division are: Antwerp, Tubize, Cercle Brugge, Union St Gilloise, Lierse, Lommel, Leuven and Roeselare.
The first weekend’s games will be: Roeselare-Lierse, Tubize-Union, Lommel-Leuven and Cercle Brugge-Antwerp.
With so few clubs, it all looks a bit incestuous. Antwerp are favourites and have been spending a bit of money. The clubs will play each other four times and there will be interminable playoffs involving all of the professional clubs (the top six in League 1A will feature in the main playoffs) with the exception of the bottom club in the JPL aka League 1A, who will be relegated directly at the end of the classic season and have a couple of months R&R, and the top club in League 1B who will be promoted.
So there you go