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Belgian football clubs agree to comply with collective rights deal

Belgian football clubs Sporting de Charleroi and Waasland-Beveren have agreed to allow pay-television broadcasters Telenet and Voo to show their home games in the Pro League, the country’s top division.

The newly-promoted clubs were threatened with expulsion from the Pro League unless they complied with the league’s collective rights deal with Telenet, which sublicenses on rights for all games to Voo in the French-speaking region of Belgium. Telenet and Voo’s key rival, the pay-television operator Belgacom, claimed last month that it had acquired the exclusive rights for Sporting de Charleroi and Waasland-Beveren home matches in three-year deals, from 2012-13 to 2014-15.

Under the latest agreement, Telenet, Voo and Belgacom will show the home games of the two clubs on Saturdays in the 2012-13 season. Home matches on Fridays and Sundays will only be available on Telenet and Voo.

“After several hours of heated discussions that otherwise could only have ended in a legal war, our club decided to link up with Telenet for the Pro League,” Waasland-Beveren said. “Therefore we have proved our loyalty to the Pro League and there is nothing to stop us starting the competition.”

Telenet has the rights for Pro League matches in a three-year deal, from 2011-12 to 2013-14. Its rights for Saturday afternoon matches are held non-exclusively along with Belgacom.