'Chaos after ruling' - Hearts and Partick Thistle intrigue as Belgian court overturns top-flight relegation decision

Waasland-Beveren have had their demotion overturned a day after the Jupiler League announced the calendar for the 2020/21 season

Hearts and Partick Thistle's legal challenge will go before an independent tribunal. Picture: SNS

Hearts and Partick Thistle will have taken a keen interest in the decision by the Belgian Arbitration Court for Sport (BAS) to overturn the decision to relegate Waasland-Beveren.

The Jupiler League decided to conclude the campaign in April, with just one game remaining of the regular season.

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At a general assembly of the league it was agreed to terminate the season by using the standings after 29 rounds. Club Brugge, who had a 15-point lead, were crowned champions and Waasland-Beveren relegated to the second tier despite sitting two points behind second bottom Oostende.

The team replacing them in the top-flight would be decided before the start of the 2020/21 season.

Last week, the Belgian Competition Authority ruled against Waasland-Beveren’s challenge. They, however, took it to BAS who overturned the decision to relegate the club, explaining the decision across a 117-page document.

It has thrown the Belgian league into panic mode with Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad leading with the headline ‘Chaos after ruling’.

A crisis meeting is set to take place on Thursday with the league having announced the calendar for the 2020/21 season on Wednesday despite a request for it to be postponed until a decision was made by BAS.

"We never gave up hope ourselves," said Waasland-Beveren spokesman Martijn De Jonghe. “The persistent wins: the BAS decided that Waasland-Beveren was wrongly demoted.

"We found it very unusual that the calendar has already been presented, while legal proceedings were still pending. This is still a small victory, although we do not know what is yet to come.”

In a situation similar to Scotland, the club had hoped that the top-flight would be extended to 18 teams. However, that was voted down.

Hearts and Thistle’s case to overturn their relegation is set to be heard by an independent tribunal next week after Lord Alistair Clark QC, at a court of session hearing, referred the case to the Scottish FA’s arbitration process.

It follows the SPFL’s decision to terminate the 2019/20 season on a points per game basis and the subsequent failure of league reconstruction. Hearts captain Steven Naismith has recently blasted the whole scenario.

With the clubs looking to be reinstated, or for compensation, they could feasibly take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Switzerland, which resolves legal disputes in sport.

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