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Pro League orders Charleroi to comply with collective rights deal

The Pro League, the top-tier football league in Belgium, has warned newly-promoted club Sporting de Charleroi that it could be barred from competing in the division unless it complies with the terms of the league’s collective broadcast rights deal with pay-television broadcaster Telenet, according to the SudPresse agency.

Earlier this week, Belgian pay-television operator Belgacom announced that it had exclusive rights deals for the home matches of Charleroi and fellow newly-promoted club Waasland-Beveren for the 2012-13 season.

SudPresse said that Belgacom agreed a three-year rights deal with Charleroi “several months ago” while the club was in the second tier, but the league is determined to ensure all matches of the upcoming season are made available on Telenet and fellow pay-television broadcaster Voo.

Telenet, which operates in the Flemish-speaking region of Belgium, sublicensed rights for all its matches to Voo in the French-speaking region after acquiring Pro League rights in a collectively-agreed deal from 2011-12 to 2013-14. Belgacom also acquired non-exclusive rights along with Telenet and Voo for five simultaneous weekly Saturday evening matches covering the same period.

The league reportedly said in a letter to Charleroi that it “risked being excluded” from the top division if it “did not comply with the Pro League contract.”

Charleroi president Medhi Bayat said the club had not received the letter yet, but added: “If we are excluded then Waasland-Beveren must also be excluded as they also work with Belgacom. We have done nothing wrong and we always want to discuss things calmly.”

Charleroi and Waasland-Beveren have sponsorship deals with Belgacom, and have credited the company with providing the financial support that helped to secure promotion last season.