Questions continue to be raised about the new management of Anderlecht football club, announced yesterday.
Philippe Close, the socialist mayor of Brussels-City commune, comes on board as a director, despite criticism from political opponents, who point out that Close came into office promising only to take on other posts if they were essential to his role as mayor.
Close points out that his post is unpaid, even to the extent of accepting a season ticket for the club’s games. He already has one, which he paid for himself, he said.
However Close’s own councillor for sport, Benoït Hellings (Ecolo) see the matter differently. “It smells of conflict of interest, and is not in keeping with the ethical guidelines of our governing agreement,” he told Le Soir. “I regret his decision for two reasons. It is in conflict with the ethical guidelines, and the rule against gathering other posts which form part of the governing agreement. It gives the appearance of conflict of interest, and might suggest the idea that we are going back on our promise not to turn the King Baudouin stadium into the home ground for a Brussels club. Whereas the view of the majority is quite clear: this is not right.”
Meanwhile another new arrival at the club, Wouter Vandenhaute, comes in as an adviser to the new CEO, Karel Van Eetvelt. Vandenhaute is principally a media magnate, but he also has a sideline as a sports agent, as owner of the agency Let’s Play. His position will be examined by the Proliga, according to president Peter Croonen, who also chairs Racing Genk.
“I find it no good development for Belgian football,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws. “What we need is a strict division between agents and clubs. I’m not saying there will be problems, and it is perfectly possible that Vandenhaute and Anderlecht won’t put a foot wrong, but this sort of grey area does the image of our football no favours.”
The sort of conflict of interest envisaged is illustrated by Michel Louwagie, manager of AA Gent. His club has two players represented by Let’s Play. He imagines a scenario where Anderlecht is interested in Odjidja. Let’s Play would be aware of the conditions AA Gent was proposing to keep him, and could then pass the details on via Vandenhaute, in a sort of insider trading that would be illegal in other circumstances.
“We’re not going to discuss the meat of the matter right now, but we do have a couple of pertinent questions,” he told the paper. “”We will put them to Vandenhaute himself. Chairman De Witte and I will be looking for some clarifications from him.”
At the same time, Croonen said, the licensing committee of the Proliga will examine the case to determine if Vandenhaute can be allowed to take up his new role.