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SBD Global/September 5, 2012/International Football

UEFA Approves Three-Year Trial Of 16-Team BeNe League

A start-up women’s football league featuring teams from the Netherlands and Belgium "may lead to similar cross-border men’s competitions in Europe," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. UEFA approved the 16-team BeNe League for a three-year trial. If the league is successful, the merger could be followed in senior men’s divisions. This would allow clubs from smaller leagues to "increase revenue and compete with wealthier English, Spanish and German teams." Football teams from countries with smaller populations "have been the losers" as success has increasingly been determined by the size of domestic TV markets. Clubs such as Dutch Eredivisie's Ajax cannot match the salaries offered in richer leagues and are regularly forced to sell players. UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said, "The main issue for such a proposal would be deciding how clubs qualify for UEFA’s competitions, which currently occurs on a country-by-country basis." In the BeNe League, the Belgian and Dutch teams "will first play rivals from their own countries before the top four from each meet in the new year." Matches between the four lowest-placed teams will also take place (BLOOMBERG, 9/4).
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