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Belgian Pro League

Published on: 08/08/2016

The top tier of Belgian professional football is known as the Belgian Pro League or the sponsor-driven title of Jupiler Pro League. Prior to 2009, it was simply known as the First Division.

The league consists of 16 clubs and the season runs from July through to May. Teams can be relegated to and promoted from, the Belgian Second Division. The Belgian Pro League regularly ranks in the top 10 of Europe’s 54 registered leagues.

The roots of the league can be traced back to 1895, when Union Royale Belge des Sociétés de Football-Association - Koninklijke Belgische Voetbalbond (URBSFA-KBVB) was formed with the intention of creating a seven-team football tournament at national level. The very first winners of this new league were FC Liégeois. A decade later, the URBSFA-KBVB joined ranks with the governing bodies of other footballing nations to form FIFA. Since 1907, various national cup competitions have been held in Belgian. However, the current version of the competition was revived in 1964 after a break of several years. The revival was prompted by the formation of the UEFA Cup Winners Cup which allowed winners of cup competitions from different nations to compete against each other.

The number of teams in the Belgian top flight was soon increased to 14 and from 1900 onwards, the league was dominated by three teams: Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, K Beerschot VAC and Racing de Bruxelles, who won 17 titles between them. The success of the domestic league prompted the formation of a national team. In 1920, Belgium hosted the Olympic Games and the national football team went on to claim the gold medal.

After the Second World War, it was RSC Anderlecht who became the dominant side in the league, winning eight league titles between 1946 and 1959. In 1954, the URBSFA-KBVB was closely involved with the creation of UEFA, and provided the organisation with one of its first leaders, José Crahay. Soon after, RSC Anderlecht became one of the most powerful teams in Europe, and went on to reach a total of seven European finals, winning five of them.

Since those heady days, Anderlecht have battled against the likes of Standard Liège, Racing Genk and Club Brugge KV for supremacy in the Belgian league - however, further European success has eluded them.

As well as a new name, 2009-10 saw the introduction of a post-season play-off system and a restructuring of the league which reduced the number of teams from 18 to 16.

Published on: 08/08/2016 © Bet Bind
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