Friday 21 May 2021 00:45

Bart Verhaeghe: "Every day we work very hard to be this good"

Club Brugge chairman Bart Verhaeghe was extemely proud of his players for winning the 17th league title in the history of the club. After the match he shared his vision on the past season, the halving of points and COVID.

"Our coach Philippe Clement won his third consecutive title, of which two with us. That's quite remarkable, it's been a while since a coach won three titles in a row. I think we have to go back to the seventees with Happel. Club is writing history as we speak. It's great to be a part of the blue and black family today with four titles in the last six years, two second places and now our fifth Champions League campaign coming up. Those are great challenges which we need to prepare for. That's our ambition."

Belgian media are calling Club the Bayern of Belgium. "That's flattering, but we stain humble. We work hard every day to be this good. But it's a lot harder for us than Bayern. If you look at the European leagues and who strings the league titles together, you have Ajax and Bayern. PSG has a good chance as well. Then there's us and Young Boys Bern in Switserland. In Belgium the points are halved at the start of the Play-Offs, a system that doens't exist in the other leagues. So that's a different story. It's not normal that we - if you would count all the points - are fifteen points ahead and still need to work hard to win the league. That's odd, plain and simple and it conflicts with my view on sports. An athlete has to cope with winning and losing, but based on logical rules. The halving of points doesn't belong in the rule book, in my opinion. That's something I can't explain in the other leagues, there isn't a single football player who gets that. Nobody thinks it's fair system. We need to do something about that, if we want to keep the integrity of our league intact. We need to move forward to a fair and competitive league. And that's a statement I'd be repeating if we were not in our position. A domestic league is not like an Europan Championship. The league champion is the team who's been most succesful over the period of a season, against all the other teams. As Club Brugge we have always said that this is not the way, whether we are in front or chasing an other team."

The chairman calmly dealt with the stress for a title match like today's. "Today I went swimming and then some cycling. This is now my tenth season as chairman, I'm used to it by now. You know how such games can turn out. Of course I experience this from closeby. I've been at the Basecamp the past few days. I know very well what is going on with the players. Players and staff handled the situation very professionally. We had to come back from a difficult period where COVID had hurt us a lot. We were playing on a high level and competing in the league, the cup and the Europa League. In one week we were ousted out of the Europa League by Kiev and the Belgian cup by Standard. That was a mental blow and we had a group of players who were dealing with COVID. We worked hard to get them match fit as soon as possible, but it took some time for them to reach their normal level again. Today most players reached their normal level again and performed like they are used to. You need to be healthy in order for your body to cope with the efforts on the pitch. And the players need match ritme. That played a huge part. It's a shame COVID hurt us like that, apart from our fans not being able to support us during the games."

And what about Philippe Clement, will he be Club's head coach next season. "We are a club who's very structured and works professionally. We can only say that what Philippe did for us is exceptional. He's been a key factor in our story. On the other hand, we've won titles with three different coaches. We've implemented a solid structure which is needed to keep the club moving forward. We're all professional enough with a love for this club. We'll sit down together in the following weeks and talk about the next move." (KN)

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