Analysing an Eredivisie & Pro League merger

Since the controversial announcement of the European Super League, mergers have been a hot topic and have been greeted with a lot of hostility. One merger that looks to be gaining momentum is that of a potential link up of the top divisions in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Comparing the league strength of BeNe vs other leagues

For many years the Eredivisie and Pro League have been a breeding ground for some of the world’s top talent, often being used as a feeder to the “Top 5 Leagues” in Europe with the likes of Luis Suarez, Kevin De Bruyne and Christian Eriksen all moving from the Eredivisie or Pro League. Producing top quality talent is a challenging process in itself, but for both leagues the main issue has been retention. Using our Team Rating data, we have created a BeNe League to see how they would compare with their respective leagues, and the rest of the top leagues in the world.

What does this tell us?

A combined league would see the league strength, based on our current Team Ratings, move up 7 places above Eredivisie & 9 places above Pro League. The league, according to Sky Sports, would include eight Belgian teams and 10 Dutch teams. The proposed eight Belgian clubs are likely to be: Club Brugge, Anderlecht, Standard Liege, Gent, Genk, Royal Antwerp, Charleroi, and an eighth club which is yet to be decided. For the chart, we included the reported teams with the inclusion of the next highest rated teams.

Creating a new league that takes the best teams from both leagues will improve overall quality of teams, which would enhance the competitiveness of the league. This could also see an increase in player retention, with the league offering being more attractive for development and closer to other rival leagues.

Analysing the difference between attacking and defensive rating for each league

Using the AI Abacus global ratings, we have also looked at which leagues have the biggest gap between attacking and defensive quality. The Belgium Pro League actually shows the second highest imbalance in all of our European leagues (with Eredivisie not far behind), meaning the attacking quality in both leagues is significantly higher than the level of defending according to our model. As can be seen below, combining both leagues would help create a more balanced quality of attacking and defending.

Why is league strength important?

In short, increased revenue. As reported by Belgian media, Deloitte calculated that a merger could generate up to 400 million euros ($476m) a year in marketing and television rights deals. This would be a significant injection of money into the game for both Netherlands & Belgium, who both boast strong international teams, with the latter currently sitting number 1 in the Fifa World Rankings. Despite this, the Pro League have the 5th most expatriates per club (57%), with Netherlands 14th and Belgium 15th for most expatriates abroad (according to Football Observatory – May 2019). A merger could see a shift in less expatriates in each league, with a higher retention of homegrown nationals.

The announcement in March that saw Belgium clubs vote in favour of the cross-boarder merger provided a significant development, with it being the first time there has been support by the smaller clubs. This comes as Belgium Pro League proposed the creation of a new national top league, which would provide financial security for those not involved in the BeNe League.

Keep an eye out on twitter for our next blog that will be looking at average style by league. Alternatively, find out which leagues provide the best value for money: Analysing which leagues from around the world offer the best value for money