Council of State vetoes Bruges’ stadium plan

Club Brugge has been dealt a potentially decisive blow in its efforts to develop a new stadium, with Belgium’s Council of State ruling that a facility for city rival Cercle cannot be developed along Blankenbergse Steenweg.

The two Pro League football clubs are engaged in separate stadium projects, with Club deciding in January to commit to demolishing and replacing Jan Breydel Stadion, which is owned by the City of Bruges.

Cercle also plays at Jan Breydel Stadion, with a condition of a new stadium for Club being that its rival be provided with a new home on Blankenbergse Steenweg. However, the Council of State, Belgium’s supreme administrative court, has now ruled that this cannot take place.

“We really did not expect this,” Mayor of Bruges, Dirk de Fauw, said, according to Het Laatste Nieuws. “Certainly because the advice of the auditor was positive. It is difficult for them (Club) to start building on Jan Breydel as long as there is no alternative for Cercle. Moreover, we cannot appeal against this decision. We do not immediately see a solution in the short term.”

De Fauw last week said Club will have one of the most beautiful stadia in Europe, after plans for the project were presented. A group led by Belgian architecture firm B2Ai and French counterpart SCAU have been appointed to develop the plans, which were set to see a new stadium (pictured) built on the site of the current 29,000-seat Jan Breydel Stadion.

The new stadium will seat 40,000 fans, is intended to provide a more intimate experience, and includes a number of eye-catching design elements. These will include its exterior being draped in a special type of highly resistant perforated textile covering.

De Fauw said yesterday (Tuesday): “It is a great pity. The plans are completely blocked. We now have to look for a solution with both teams. We still believe that it should be possible for Club to build a stadium on the Jan Breydel site.

“Our substantial homework can be put in the rubbish bin for the time being. But I assure you that we will not leave Cercle out in the cold.”

Bruges Alderman Franky Demon said, according to the VoetbalPrimeur website: “I have serious doubts about the legal certainty in this country. Everyone has worked according to what was said by the Council of State in 2013. Now the same body is destroying everything. Incomprehensible. After 14 years everything has to start again.”

Jan Breydel Stadion opened in 1975 and was one of the venues for the 2000 UEFA European Championships, which Belgium co-hosted with the Netherlands.

Image: B2Ai