We all know that the phoenix rises from the ashes of its predecessor… but what about the Brussels’ Phoenix?
It’s been 2 weeks since Head Coach Serge Crevecoeur announced his departure of the club at the end of the season. An announcement which left Brussels Basketball reeling and which very likely could mean the end of the club in EuroMillions Basketball which would be quite devastating for the league.
But let us be very clear: the fault for their possible demise does not lie with Crevecoeur, who almost single-handedly (along with André Dekandelaer) turned this team into a professional, competitive club at the highest level in Belgium. No, the fault lies with their lack of infrastructure and the lack of support from the Brussels’ politicians who have been doing a lot of talking throughout these past couple of years without any actual action to follow up their promises.
But all hope is not yet lost for Brussels. Crevecoeur’s announcement has lit a fire underneath the organization and has put all hens on deck in a last attempt to maintain the club at the highest level in Belgium. Interviews are being conducted to find a suitable replacement for Crevecoeur and the city has announced that they will augment their subsidies with 200.000€. Since getting a new gym remains out of the question at the moment the city has also agreed with a (small) renovation of their current gym so that the club can at least invite some VIP guests in an attempt to appease their sponsors and hopefully attract new ones to replace the ones who have left.
Obviously those are all positive actions and as Dekandelaer stated: the club’s existence in the EMBL has gone from hanging in between the orange and red light to now hanging in between the orange and green light for next season.
Still… if Brussels manages to survive in the EMBL next season it definitely won’t be as a competitor and instead they will go on the same route that VOO Liège Basket has been forced to take. The league is clearly struggling, fans are staying away from the games, clubs are forced to lower their budgets, the overall level of the games continues to drop and I think it is time for a complete overhaul. With Liège confirming that they will remain in EMBL with a roster consisting mainly of their own youth players along with 3 European import players and with Brussels most likely going that same route wouldn’t this be the opportune time to lower the financial restrictions of the league and get together with the bigger TDM1 clubs to reform the league to 12 or 14 clubs?
The EMBL has been desperate for new blood and are looking to a BeNeLeague in order to get there. And although I agree that a BeNeLeague could open things up for more sponsorships I highly doubt that the fans will be all that interested, making it very likely that those sponsors won’t get the return they were hoping for and will eventually drop out. So why not look at our own clubs? There are definitely quality clubs in TDM1 that could invigorate the league. Of course they won’t be title contenders and there will be blow-outs. But how’s that any different from what we already have with Liège and possibly Brussels next season? And to keep the top teams interested why not form a BeNeCup with the Top 4 teams from Belgium and the Netherlands and perhaps add 2 more teams from Luxembourg as well?
Obviously I’m just spitballing here but one thing is painfully clear: Belgian basketball is standing at a crossroad and needs to decide on a path to take, knowing very well that the path they decide to take could either bring new life to a dying league or will push it back into obscurity. We can only hope that they’ll make the right decision.