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Standard Liege fail to win title

On the final day of the Belgium football season Roland Duchâtelet’s Standard Liege lost out on the Jupiler League title to Anderlecht, the team they finished 10 points clear of at the end of the regular league season. Those 10 months of grind all means nothing as the clubs enter a crackpot Play-Off system, that could only have been thought up by an American.

Standard’s Technical Director Jean-Francois de Sart called the Belgian Play-Off system “stupid, a failure and unique in the football world.” De Sart isn’t always as perceptive as Addicks may remember.

Standard did win today, and still qualify for the Champions League, but will have to enter the ruthless Qualifying Stages. Their 1-0 win over Genk meant they finished 2nd by a point. If they hadn’t won Les Rouches would’ve been dumped into the Europa Cup with Club Brugge taking the treasured Champions League spot.

Whilst Anderlecht celebrated their 33rd title and fourth in five years, Standard are now without a title since 2009.

Anderlecht will enter the Champions League at the Group Stages, which is where the big money is, while Standard will have to navigate two rounds of Play-Off matches before the golden goose of the home and away mini leagues are reached. That will be no easy task.

They will likely be drawn against someone like Lille, Zenit St Petersburg, Feyenoord, Panathinaikos or Beşiktaş. They may get lucky and meet a champion from a lesser European football nation such as Celtic or Sparta Prague, who will come out of the 2nd Round.

If they win, then to make qualification to the Group Stages Arsenal, Porto, Bayer Leverkusen, Napoli and Athletico Bilbao lie in wait.

Standard will receive €2.1m for qualifying whereas Andelecht collect €8.6m. The major televisions revenues are shared based on appearances, but are heavily backloaded into the later rounds.

Duchâtelet and the network are counting the cost of a big chunk of lost revenue today and it will be interesting to understand if this affects just Standard or all of Duchâtelet’s clubs. However now with the Belgium season over, although 2nd Division Sint-Truiden still have a game to play, we surely have to expect Duchatelet and Katrien Meire to immediately start making decisions regarding player contracts and Jose Riga.

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