Belgium club Union in dire need of new venue



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Belgium Royale Union Saint-Gilloise informs about new stadium Image: Royale Union Saint-Gilloise (Facebook)

The top-flight Belgian football club Union recently unveiled its plans for a new stadium to its fans and the local residents of Forest in Brussels, Belgium. They made this announcement at the Club House of their home arena – the Joseph Marien Stadium in Brussels, Belgium. The top-of-the-heap club urgently needs a spiffy home venue.

By the end of this month, the Union and the Municipality of Vorst (Forest) will discuss the 3.5 million euros bid made for the Bempt site which sits on the Brussels Ring Road.

‘hln.be’ quoted Philippe Bormans, head honcho, Union, as stating, “Building a new arena has become imperative for the Union as it pertains to their survival.”

The Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, abbreviated to Union SG or USG, unofficially simply called Union, is a Belgian football club originally located in the Municipality of Saint-Gilles in Brussels, although since the 1920s it has been based at the Joseph Marien Stadium in the neighboring Municipality of Forest. The club is one of the most successful in the history of Belgian football. The club won 11 Belgian championships between 1904 and 1935, making it the most successful Belgian club before World War II.

The Joseph Marien Stadium is a multiuse stadium located within Duden Park in the Municipality of Forest in Brussels, Belgium. It is currently used mostly for football matches and is the home ground of the Royale Union Saint-Gilloise. The stadium can hold 9,400 spectators since 2018 and opened in 1919.

‘hln.be’ further stated that Bormans explained in a nutshell to the gathering present at the Club Hall as to why the Union is in dire need of a new stadium. In the five years since the reins of the club went into the hands of Britons Tony Bloom and Co-Owner Alex Muzio, the club has suffered a cumulative loss of almost €30 million. The income from tickets and sponsorship at Union is less than five million euros. It is nominal compared to the majority of the other first division teams as Bormans put in, “That is less than half of the average of the K12. And the average of the G6 top clubs is four times higher with more than 20 million euros in the form of commercial revenue.”

As per Bormans, it will difficult for the club to survive in the long term if it continues to earn less revenue – “The investors will not want to cover five million euros in losses every season. As the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), it is my job to ensure that the club continues to remain in the top of the heap without investors pumping in money. If the Union moves to a new venue, I am sure the cash registers will start jingling and will serve the top-notch in good stead.”

A slide show was presented to the fans which showed the proposed Bempt site in Forest where Union plans to build their new home venue. Bormans assured fans that the surrounding green zone will not be touched if the stadium work begins and the virgin vegetation will remain intact.

The above was a major concern for the local residents.

The head honcho added, “We are not aiming for a massive complex which will be able to accommodate 30,000 fans, but at least we want a stadium which will be able to pack in at least 16,000 fans. We want to remain in the same league with the powerhouse football clubs of Europe.”

Bormans was asked by a fan as to why the Union does not share the home venue of the top-notch Belgian football club R.S.C. Anderlecht. To this, Bormans shot back, “This is a dangerous proposition. My answer is simple: Anderlecht and Union have different DNAs. If the Union shares the Anderlecht’s stadium that would finish the club, they will lose their identity and nobody will talk about the Union any more. It will be like selling their soul.”

Continued Bormans, “We want an enclosed stadium. We are in contact with a Belgian and English architect.”

The Municipality of Vorst must give the green light to sell the Bempt site to the Union. The Union made an offer of 3.5 million euros for the location. The Municipality of Vorst is now examining factors like the environment which is a hot-button topic and taking the views of the local residents. A decision is expected to be arrived at by the end of the month.

Bormans concluded by stating, “We cannot provide a timeline as to when work will start on the planned venue. In Belgium, you cannot build a stadium in flat 15 months or two years. A lot of issues still remain to be discussed.”

The Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht, usually known as Anderlecht, is a Belgian professional football club based in Anderlecht, Brussels Capital-Region, Belgium. The Anderlecht play in the Belgian First Division A and is the most successful Belgian football team in European competitions, with five trophies, as well as in the Belgian domestic league, with 34 championship wins under their belt.

The 22,500-capacity Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, also known as the Lotto Park for sponsorship reasons, is a football stadium in the Municipality of Anderlecht in Brussels, Belgium. It is home to R.S.C. Anderlecht. The stadium hosted the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) EURO 1972 semi-final between Hungary and the Soviet Union, as well as several games of the Belgium national football team.

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