The Belgian Pro League is the top division football league in Belgium. The league which consists of 16 teams was founded in 1895. Since the league’s inception, a total of 74 clubs have participated in the league, of which only 44 still exist as football clubs today. The top 2 teams in the league qualify for the UEFA Champions League with a further 3 spots allocated to the UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds.
As from 2009 the Belgian Pro League is played in a play offs system. Teams ranked 1-6 play the A playoffs, teams ranked 7-14 play the B playoffs and those ranked 15-16 play against each other to determine the team that would automatically get relegated. Winner of the B playoffs still has a chance to qualify to the UEFA Europa league by competing with the teams that ended in the 5th and 6th places in playoffs A, The winning team of the two teams that play against relegation will compete with winners of the second division over a spot in the first division for the following year's season.
Anderlecht is the Pro League’s most successful club, having won the title 33 times. Club Brugge has 13 titles to its name while Standard Liege has been crowned as a champion10 times. In recent years clubs like Genk, Lokeren and Zulte-Waregem have competed for the remaining European qualifying positions. Genk managed to win their first Pro-League title in almost a decade in the 2010-2011 season.
The Pro League’s all-time top scorer is Albert De Cleyn who scored 350 goals for K.V. Mechelen, Anderlecht’s Joseph Mermans is 2nd on the list with 339 goals.
Standard Liege’s Stade Maurice Dufrasne is the largest stadium in the league with capacity of 30,000. Club Brugge and Cercle Brugge share the Jan Breydel Stadium which seats just under 30,000 spectators.
The Belgian football seems to be in a golden era. The national team made an outstanding campaign during the world cup reaching the quarter finals and losing to the Argentinean team only by a minimal margin 0:1.
Many Belgian players are playing in the best European leagues, namely the Premiere League and La Liga. Notable examples are: goal keeper Thibaut Courtois, now playing for Chelsea with Eden Hazard as his team mate, Romelu Lukaku playing for Everton, Vincent Company in Manchester City and Thomas Vermaelen playing for Barcelona.
All these first class players grew up in Belgian clubs. The academies of the Belgian clubs keep introducing young and talented players to the Belgian league and to the world. Noteworthy players in the league currently are Jelle Van Damme playing for Standard, Steven Defour and Anthony Van der Borre both playing for Anderlecht , David Pollet in his new team AA Gent and Marco Bizzot in his new team Genk.
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