Belgian First Division

Belgian First Division

Infobox sports league
current_season=Belgian First Division 2008-09
logo=Jupiler_League.jpg
pixels=80px
caption="Jupiler League"
sport=Football
founded=1895
teams=18
country=BEL
champion=Standard Liège (07-08)

The Belgian First Division, also known as Jupiler Pro League (it is sponsored by InBev, the makers of Jupiler), is the top competition in Belgian football (soccer). It was created in 1895. R.S.C. Anderlecht is the most successful league club with 29 titles, followed by Club Brugge K.V. (13), R. Union Saint-Gilloise (11) and R. Standard de Liège (9).

The competition

Each of the 18 competitors in the Jupiler Pro League plays each of its 17 opponents twice. The championship thus comprises 34 matchdays of 9 matches each, generally played between August and May. A win earns three points since the 1995-96 season. A draw earns one point. If two teams have the same number of points, the one with the most wins is placed first. If teams have the same number of points and wins, a test-match is played in two legs to determine the final order in the standings (it is actually played only when teams are involved in relegation, title or European fight).

The Belgian League is currently changing from an 18-team league to a 16-team league. In the 2008-09 season, the bottom two teams will relegate, while the numbers 15 and 16 play in a playoff against two teams from second division. Only one of these 4 remains in first division together with the second division champion. [cite web |url=http://www.uefa.com/footballeurope/news/kind=2/newsid=673448.html?cid=rssfeed&att=index |title= Belgium primed for league shake-up |publisher=UEFA | date= March 18, 2008 |accessdate= 2008-03-18] [cite news |title= Reform of First Division now a fact.
url=http://www.sporza.be/cm/sporza.be/voetbal/eersteklasse/080517_hervorming_goedgekeurd
publisher=sporza.be
language=dutch |date=2008-05-17
] .

Currently, the Belgian champion qualifies for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, while the runner-up must play in the third preliminary round. The third-placed team qualifies for the last preliminary round of the UEFA Cup. If the cup winner is one of the three top championship clubs, the loser of the cup enters UEFA Cup. If the Cup finalist has already qualified, the fourth-placed team of the championship would replace it. From the 2008-09 season however, both the European cups and the Belgian league will be reformed and it is yet not completely clear how the Belgian league will distribute the European tickets, except that there will be playoffs involved in some manner [cite news |title= Reform of First Division now a fact.
url=http://www.sporza.be/cm/sporza.be/voetbal/eersteklasse/080517_hervorming_goedgekeurd
publisher=sporza.be
language=dutch |date=2008-05-17
] .

Matches are usually played on Saturday at 20.00 or Sunday at 15.00 depending on the venues. Some matchdays are played on Wednesday, however. Furthermore, in recent years, televised games are played either on Friday or during the weekend at different times (e.g. Saturday at 18.00 or Sunday at 13.00 or 20.00). The main reason is the new law that forbids televised matches to be played at the same time than other Jupiler Pro League matches (to avoid stadium emptying for those matches).

Each team playing the Jupiler Pro League (and second division) must have been granted the Belgian Football Association license guaranteeing the club has no excessive debts, has a secure stadium, etc. This was introduced in season 2001-02 to decrease the number of teams in the division. Originally, clubs that could not get the license were supposed to be replaced (and sent to the third division). However, it is still not effective as, for example, K.S.K. Beveren finished 18th in 2001-2002 but were saved as K.S.C. Eendracht Aalst (17th) and R.W.D. Molenbeek (10th) were refused their license.

The 2008-2009 clubs

For this season, the 18 participating clubs are the following:

Club nameCityLast
season
position
First season of
current spell in
top division
Result 06/07Result 05/06Result 04/05Result 03/04Result 02/03
R.S.C. Anderlecht Brussels 2nd 1935-36 1st 1st 2nd 1st 2nd
Cercle Brugge K.S.V. Brugge 4th 2003-04 12th 14th 11th 14th 1st (D2)
R. Charleroi S.C. Charleroi 8th 1985-86 5th 11th 5th 15th 16th
Club Brugge K.V. Brugge 3rd 1959-60 6th 3rd 1st 2nd 1st
Dender EH Denderleeuw 15th 2007-08 1st (D2) 1st (D3) -- -- --
K.R.C. Genk Genk 10th 1996-97 2nd 5th 3rd 4th 6th
K.A.A. Gent Ghent 6th 1989-90 4th 4th 6th 9th 8th
K.F.C. Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen 5th 1989-90 7th 6th 9th 7th 14th
K.V. Kortrijk Kortrijk 1st (D2) 2008-09 3rd (D2) 5th (D2) 7th (D2) 2nd (D3) 5th (D3)
K.S.C. Lokeren Oost-Vlaanderen Lokeren 12th 1996-97 16th 8th 8th 10th 3rd
Y.R. K.V. Mechelen Mechelen 13th 2007-08 2nd (D2) 13th (D2) 1st (D3) 7th (D3) 17th
R.A.E.C. Mons Mons 16th 2006-07 9th 1st (D2) 18th 16th 9th
R.E. Mouscron Mouscron 11th 1996-97 10th 13th 13th 5th 13th
K.S.V. Roeselare Roeselare 14th 2005-06 11th 12th 2nd (D2) 3rd (D2) 17th (D2)
R. Standard de Liège Liège 1st 1921-22 3rd 2nd 3rd 3rd 7th
A.F.C. Tubize Tubize 2nd (D2) 2008-09 9th (D2) 12th (D2) 6th (D2) 4th (D2) 1st (D3)
K.V.C. Westerlo Westerlo 9th 1997-98 8th 9th 12th 6th 10th
S.V. Zulte-Waregem Waregem 7th 2005-06 14th 7th 1st (D2) 5th (D2) 4th (D2)

Note:
* Dender EH was only formed in April 2005 as result of a merger, hence no results before that.

History

The first league in Belgian football (called "Coupe de Championnat"; English: Championship Cup) was held in 1895-1896 with 7 teams. Those teams were Antwerp F.C., F.C. Brugeois, F.C. Liégeois (the first Champion) as well as 4 teams from Brussels : R.C. de Bruxelles, Léopold Club de Bruxelles, S.C. de Bruxelles and Union d'Ixelles. There was no relegation/promotion system at the time but the last two clubs of the league (namely Brugge and Union d'Ixelles) were withdrawn and a new club entered the competition (Athletic & Running Club de Bruxelles). The early championships were dominated by F.C. Liégeois and R.C. de Bruxelles that shared the first 8 titles. From the season 1898-99 on, there were two leagues at the top level. In 1900-01, the two leagues were reunited in one of 9 clubs. However, the next year, the first division was split again, with now a playoff with 4 teams to decide the champion instead of a final game.

In the 1900s, the leading teams were Union Saint-Gilloise (that won its first 6 titles in that decade), R.C. de Bruxelles and the new Beerschot A.C. but this latter club was soon replaced by F.C. Brugeois as a top club. For the season 1904-05, the two top leagues merged and the championship was then played between 11 teams and was renamed "Division I" (but it was unfinished). One year later, the promotion/relegation system was created with the second division and only 10 teams played first division until 1908, when two more clubs were admitted. The number of teams grew in 1921 (14 teams), 1942 (16 teams), 1945 (19 teams), then decreased to 16 clubs two years later. Again, in 1974-75 the number of teams increased to 20 teams then decreased to 19 the next season and to 18 in 1976-77.

As World War I was coming, Daring Club de Bruxelles confirmed its status of challenger, even winning the title in 1912 and 1914. In 1926 the championship was called "Division d'Honneur" (Premier Division). From 1921 to 1932, the decade was dominated by the Antwerp football: the Beerschot A.C. of Raymond Braine won its first 5 titles, Antwerp F.C. its first 2 and the small club of Liersche S.K. (with Bernard Voorhoof) won its first one in 1932. The challengers at the time were C.S. Brugeois (two more titles in that period of time), Union Saint-Gilloise (one more), R.C. de Bruxelles, Daring Club de Bruxelles and afterwards Standard Club Liégeois. Starting December 25, 1932, Union Saint-Gilloise did not lose its next 60 championship games and it thus won the titles in 1933, 1934 and 1935. The record still holds and will probably never be beat. The rival of Union was then Daring Club and it managed to win the next two championships. Following the come-back of Raymond Braine to Beerschot, the club from Antwerp won the last two titles before World War II.

On May 10, 1940 the German troops were taking over the country and thus the seasons 1939-40 and 1940-41 were suspended. The competition started again in September 1941 and Liersche S.K. won its second title. The next season, the club lost three key players (two of them were bombed and the other one died to a heavy injury on the pitch) and ended at 3rd place while the neighbour team of K.V. Mechelen became the Champion. In 1947, R.S.C. Anderlechtois won its first championship with Jef Mermans as the key striker and it dominated the Belgian football over the next ten years with 7 titles. In 1952, the first division changed its name back to "Division I". In the late 1950s Standard lifted the trophy for the first time and it fought with Anderlecht each year to conqueer the league until 1972 after what Club Brugge had a good decade. Between 1960 and 1972, Anderlecht ended at first place 7 times and Standard 5 times.

Top scorers

This is the list of the last 10 years top scorers in the Jupiler Pro League.

SeasonPlayerCountryClubGoals
1998-99 Jan Koller 24
1999-00 Ole Martin Arst
Toni Brogno
30
2000-01 Tomasz Radzinski 23
2001-02 Wesley Sonck 30
2002-03 Cédric Roussel
Wesley Sonck
22
2003-04 Luigi Pieroni 28
2004-05 Nenad Jestrović 18
2005-06 Tosin Dosunmu 18
2006-07 François Sterchele 21
2007-08 Joseph Akpala 18

Past winners

Top flight champions in Belgian football

Teams are ranked according to the number of championship victories:
*29 wins: R.S.C. Anderlecht
*13 wins: Club Brugge
*11 wins: R. Union Saint-Gilloise
*9 wins: Standard Liège
*7 wins: Beerschot
*6 wins: Racing de Bruxelles
*5 wins: Daring de Bruxelles, R.F.C. Liégeois
*4 wins: R. Antwerp F.C., K.V. Mechelen, K. Lierse S.K.
*3 wins: Cercle Brugge K.S.V.
*2 wins: K.S.K. Beveren, K.R.C. Genk
*1 win: R.W.D. Molenbeek

Past clubs

Below are listed all the teams that appeared at least one season in the first division but that do not play at that level anymore. Teams are listed by reverse order of their last relegation from the first division. The last spell in the first division is indicated between brackets. Teams in bold still exist, others stopped, went into liquidation or merged with or into another team.

* K. Sint-Truidense V.V. (1994-95 to 2007-08)
* Brussels (2004-05 to 2007-08)
* K. Lierse S.K. (1988-89 to 2006-07)
* K.S.K. Beveren (1997-98 to 2006-07)
* R.A.A. Louviéroise (2000-01 to 2005-06)
* K.V. Oostende (2004-05)
* R. Antwerp F.C. (2000-01 to 2003-04)
* K. Heusden-Zolder (2003-04)
* K.F.C. Lommel S.K. (2001-02 to 2002-03)
* K.S.C. Eendracht Aalst (1994-95 to 2001-02)
* R.W.D. Molenbeek (2001-02)
* K.R.C. Harelbeke (1995-96 to 2000-01)
* K.F.C. Verbroedering Geel (1999-2000)
* K.S.V. Waregem (1995-96)
* R.F.C. Liégeois (1945-46 to 1994-95)
* F.C. Boom (1992-93)
* K. Beerschot V.A.V. (1982-83 to 1990-91)
* K.R.C. Mechelen (1988-89 to 1989-90)
* R.C. Jet de Bruxelles (1986-87 to 1987-88)
* K. Berchem Sport (1986-87)
* R.F.C. Sérésien (1982-83 to 1986-87)
* K.S.V. Waterschei Thor (1978-79 to 1985-86)
* K. Sint-Niklase S.K. (1984-85)
* R. Beringen F.C. (1983-84)
* F.C. Winterslag (1976-77 to 1982-83)
* K.S.K. Tongeren (1981-82 to 1982-83)
* S.C. Hasselt (1979-80)
* A.S. Oostende (1974-75 to 1976-77)
* R.O.C. de Charleroi (1974-75)
* K. Tesamen Hogerop Diest (1970-71 to 1974-75)
* R. Union Saint-Gilloise (1968-69 to 1972-73)
* R. Crossing Club de Schaerbeek (1969-70 to 1972-73)
* R. Daring Club de Bruxelles (1959-60 to 1968-69)
* R. Tilleur F.C. (1964-65 to 1966-67)
* R.C.S. Verviétois (1956-57 to 1960-61)
* V.V. Patro Eisden (1960-61)
* R.R.C. Tournaisien (1958-59)
* R.C. de Bruxelles (1954-55)
* K. Lyra (1953-54)
* R.R.C. de Gand (1952-53)
* R.U.S. Tournaisienne (1951-52)
* R. Stade Louvaniste (1949-50)
* R. Uccle Sport (1947-48)
* White Star A.C. (1934-35 to 1946-47)
* R.C.S. La Forestoise (1942-43 to 1946-47)
* R.C. Tirlemont (1937-38)
* F.C. Turnhout (1936-37)
* Belgica F.C. Edegem (1933-34 to 1934-35)
* Tubantia F.A.C. (1930-31 to 1931-32)
* R.F.C. Montegnée (1930-31)
* Léopold Club de Bruxelles (1913-14)
* E.S.C. de Bruxelles (1908-09 to 1912-13)
* Athletic and Running Club de Bruxelles (1896-97 to 1904-05)
* Olympia Club de Bruxelles (1903-04)
* Skill F.C. de Bruxelles (1899-1900 to 1901-02)
* Sporting Club de Bruxelles (1895-96 to 1896-97)
* Union F.C. d'Ixelles (1895-96)

References

ee also

*Football in Belgium
*Belgian Cup
*Belgian Supercup
*Belgian Second Division
*Belgian Football Association
*Belgian football league system
*Sports league attendances

External links

*de icon en icon fr icon nl icon [http://www.footbel.be The Belgian Football Association official website]
*fr icon [http://www.sport.be/fr/jupilerleague Sport website] - On the Jupiler League
*en icon [http://www.users.skynet.be/pluto/Textfifa/soccer.html Pluto website] - Belgian football history
*en icon [http://www.rsssf.com/tablesb/belghist.html RSSSF archive] - All time tables
*en icon [http://www.resultsfromfootball.com/jupilerleague-from-belgium.html Football results] - Belgium football statistics


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