“Anderlecht is not an enemy”: the CEO of the Union responds to the anger of the supporters

In the middle of the once again incredible sports season of the Union, a controversy arose within the Brussels club itself. Last December, the main group of supporters, the “Union Bhoys”, expressed their anger at the decision of the unionist management to play their Europa League Round of 16 in March at Lotto Park. “Anderlecht is not our enemy”, replied Philippe Bormans, CEO of Yellow and Blue.

“Bormans, if you don’t have the passion, go back to Saint-Trond.” Ten days ago, the CEO of the Union was surprised to see the supporters of the Union deploying a vehement banner towards him during the derby in Anderlecht. This message came a few weeks after the decision not to play the Europa League round of 16 at home on March 16 at the OHL as in the group stage, but at Lotto Park in Anderlecht. The “Union Bhoys” had announced a boycott in a press release published on social networks: “Our management is counting on us to make this event a big party on March 16? Well, Mr. Bormans, it will be without us!”

Just as the “Union Bhoys” regretted not having been consulted on this decision, the club were surprised by the banner which targeted Philippe Bormans. The decision to play at Anderlecht was taken by the entire board. “But I’ve been in football long enough to be able to understand that,” Mr Bormans replies today. “Fans have the right to express their opinion via a banner. I also fully understand that some are unhappy that we are not playing in Leuven again. Maybe we should have communicated better about that too.”

The Union Bhoys expressed their anger with this letter last month. © Facebook Union Bhoys

Explanations by Philippe Bormans

Mr. Bormans wishes to explain his decision. “It’s about the organization. In Leuven, we are at the limit. In the previous home game against Union Berlin, we saw that things were very difficult. There was a lot of stress because the fans from the visiting club weren’t expected and they came in anyway. We have received comments from UEFA on this. In Leuven it is a different police zone, in Brussels we have the same police zone. For the eighth final, the probability of a high-level draw is very high. We then have to be proactive and decide in advance. We can’t wait for the end of the draw to find out the location of the event.”

According to Mr Bormans, the King Baudouin stadium was also a difficult place to organize a European match. The dense accessibility for the organization and the capacity of the Lotto Park worked in favor of Anderlecht. The OHL also reportedly asked for more money to free up its stadium. In addition, Union had previously brokered a deal with Anderlecht to play the European Champions League play-off tie there, should Union qualify against Rangers. That deal ultimately fell through following a dispute between Felice Mazzu and the Union over his transfer to Anderlecht. And anyway, the Union could not qualify in Glasgow.

“We communicated at the time about the agreement to play the possible match against PSV or Monaco in Anderlecht,” said Mr Bormans. “There was no fan reaction to this. Anderlecht is not an enemy for us. With the RWDM, the relationship is more sensitive”.

Upcoming talks?

Mr. Bormans is ready to discuss with the “Union Bhoys”. “I am always open to questions. We are really hoping for a great line-up and we want our fans to be able to experience this match in a professional and safe environment.”

“If the Bhoys are united, they will never be divided,” says the slogan of the “Union Bhoys”. As the main group of supporters, they help preserve the unique identity of the Union’s atmosphere. The chants are not directed negatively at the opponent, at most in a playful way. Aggressive behavior is out of the question.

The banner displayed against the CEO of the club sparked discussions within the group of supporters. Not all Union Bhoys fully support the action or the boycott. Some do not want to miss the historic eighth European final after so many decades spent in the lower divisions, whether in Anderlecht or not.



“Angry” to play in Anderlecht, the Union ultras step up: “The big party will be without us”

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