Van Basten wants Dutch-Belgian league

31st March 2006, Comments 0 comments

31 March 2006, AMSTERDAM — Dutch soccer coach Marco van Basten has called for the establishment of a joint Dutch-Belgian league to help narrow the gap between the Low Countries and Europe's big soccer nations.

31 March 2006

AMSTERDAM — Dutch soccer coach Marco van Basten has called for the establishment of a joint Dutch-Belgian league to help narrow the gap between the Low Countries and Europe's big soccer nations.

"We must prevent losing competitiveness in a gigantic manner to foreign countries," Van Basten told Dutch daily newspaper NRC.Next on Friday.

"The big football countries are sucking us dry. In my time as a professional football player there were five Dutchmen playing abroad, now there are 50. That's just not right," the Dutch coach said.

A new Dutch-Belgian competition could be the solution, he said. "This way we can counter the financial strength of countries like Britain, Spain, Italy, France and Germany where they just splash money about."

Van Basten, three-time winner of European Footballer of the Year, said the joint league should bring together the best 16 clubs from the Netherlands and Belgium.

The idea isn't new but Van Basten's stature ensures a lot of publicity for its latest airing. It might annoy Belgians, though, that he sees a bigger role for Belgian's larger neighbour.

"The Dutch competition is better than the one in Belgium. In addition more people live here (The Netherlands). This gives you a model of 10 Dutch clubs and six Belgian ones - the Competition of the Low Lands. This is just one example. It doesn't matter where the idea comes from. The most important thing is that the standard rises, here and among the Belgians," Van Basten said.

The new competition, he said, could be an alternative to the play-offs. "The level of Dutch football does not improve via the play-offs. That would happen if you had Anderlecht, Bruges, Liège or Ghent in place of (Dutch clubs) RBC, Sparta and Willem II. Such a competition would be less predictable," Van Basten said.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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