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How much fairy tale is in Royale Union Saint

Celebrating 25 years of Super League with Eddie Hemmings + more | From the archives In Europe, hardly anyone should have known the Royale Union Saint-Gilloise until a few weeks ago. However, that has changed fundamentally - the story is too good and, at least in Germany, reminds a little at the 1st FC Kaiserslautern. The Belgian club is undoubtedly a traditional club, but he was very successful, he was already no longer forever - until the fourth league, it was temporarily down. In the far over one hundred year history, the total eleven championships are correspondingly long ago, most recently, the title went 1935 to the club from the capital Brussels.

But now the newcomer - like the FCK in 1998 in the Bundesliga - are sensational masters, even if the way there is, despite a sovereign table leadership: The big lead brings only partially something because the best four teams of Jupiler Pro League stupidly still need to be in a masterpiece.

The stadium is a Marodes gem

Hardly to distinguish from the surrounding houses: the Stade Joseph Marien. imago / belga

But how much modern football markets is in this possibly spectacular coup? The stadium alone should let the hearts of many romantics be raised. The Stade Joseph Marien has been the home of the association founded in 1897 since 1919, and that's what it looks like. Coming over the Chaussee de Bruxelles, hardly falls up between the residential buildings. The ailing charm remains preserved even in the small around the nearly 10,000 spectators. Almost unfortunate that a new and larger arena is planned.

Of course, the cometary rise of Deniz andav is noteworthy. The ex-Meppener had come to Belgium in the summer of 2020 over the 3rd league. In the past season, he contributed 17 goals to climb. Currently, the climber has seven points ahead of Royal Antwerp and whopping 20 of the 59 goals go to the cap of the 25-year-old, which calls Karim Benzema as his role model. Less to the romantic picture, however, fits his change in summer in the Premier League to Brighton & Hove Albion \ - but later.

andAV: "I really wanted to be part of the project"

"The plan of the club was as fast as possible in the 1st league. This has naturally fired my desire to change - I really wanted to be part of the project," Andav had explained his move to Belgium in January in the Pro League interview.. "That we actually brought the club to the highest Belgian league for the first time in the summer of 2021 for the first time for more than 50 years ago, was an outstanding feeling." Trainer Felice Mazzu, since May 2020 in office, finally said in conversation with ZDF: "Yes, it's really a fairy tale when a team rises and continues to win."

Rising Party: 2021 Union Saint-Gilloise returned to the first Belgian league. Belga Mag / AFP Via Getty Images

A German millionaire and a poker player from England

But how is it to explain that Union Saint-Gilloise has occurred again from the depths of Belgian football? Here begins the less romantic part, which is also part of history and leads through a German millionaire to a poker's Englishman.

First of all, the German multimillionaire Jürgen Baatzsch rose to the Belgian club and became President in 2015. The next stage of development was followed in 2018, when Tony Bloom took over the majority from the German. The Englishman is not unknown as a football investor and with his money chairman at the Premier League Club Brighton, whom he was already connected as a child as a fan.

Bloom is studied mathematicians and earned his fortune among other things in poker and with sports betting. Although the rise in the Premier League succeeded in the Seagulls, a master coup, as Underdog Leicester 2016 had made him, is currently unattainable.

Belgian toys for rich millionaires

In the small Belgium can be achieved by a commitment to a traditional club possibly with less use significantly more - in the Jupiler Pro League, such a few investors romp. Bloom brings himself on a sporty level - if at all - only behind the scenes. For this he installed his longtime business partner Alex Muzio.

Muzio, who also holds around ten percent of the shares in the club, worked in Bloom's company Starlizard over twelve years. The company does not play a very insignificant role in all this. The company collects countless data on players and teams and advises sportsweather. Or is also used here in the commitment of players on Big Data?

Data-based transfer policy is now nothing completely new and can also be found in the clubs Brentford (England) and Midtjylland (Denmark). Behind Brentford also stands with Matthew Benham a multimillionaire who has earned a lot of money with sports betting. The concept behind the clubs: Due to many statistics and data analyzes, players who fall through the grid for other clubs are required for manageable sums. (The ex-Bochum Vitaly Janelt explained the principle of Brentford in the Pro League interview.)

Syrianos: "Products from the pole offer no competitive advantage"

Georgios Syrianos, who has changed 2021 from VFB Stuttgart as a squad planer to the English second division Nottingham Forest, supports his new employer with his data analysis and says opposite the Pro League that he finds Starlizard "very interesting": "There are now a number of similar companies and Portals. Opta, Statsbomb, MPS, Ortec etc. "

There are slight deviations, as the data is collected. "Most clubs buy finished portals because they do not have the expertise internally to convert the raw data into statistical models. The data providers then offer specially developed models for the evaluation of players", says Syrianos and indicate: "The problem here is The fact that products offer no competitive advantage from the bar if four or five of your competitors within the league use the same product. " (Read a detailed interview with Syrianos here)

Algorithms and databases determine the transfers

At Union Saint-Gilloise, a colorful troupe from all gentlemen countries has come together in recent years. USG is likely to recruit his players according to similar principles, as Bloom's company Starlizard determines the value of sports betting: with meticulous data analysis.

Hope for the big coup: the fans of USG. Picture Alliance / Pro Shots

After the climb, he also deleged talented players like the Japanese Kaoru Mitoma and Poland Kacper Kozlowski from Brighton to Belgium. And even seems to be too good for Belgium and took in winter the reverse way - before a different club strikes. But he is still complete the beautiful story in Belgium, for the rest of the season he was awarded back to the Belgian leader.

Coach Mazu does not matter and does not expect anyway to hold his squad. "I'm not afraid I know that players will go," says the Belgian. "We have players who are exploded here. There it will be offers from clubs with great name. We must be prepared for that." But then algorithms and databases are being kept and the next generation proposed at players.

Whether that sounds all about a modern football chart or not, is probably in the eye of the viewer. For the suffering fans of the club from Brussels, the matter is long clear.


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