02.06.2019 17:12 h

Mechelen stripped of promotion over Belgian match fixing

Mechelen were stripped of their promotion to the Belgian top flight as punishment in a long-running match-rigging case.

Mechelen, who won the Belgian Cup last month, were also banned from European competitions by the national football federation and will start next season with a 12-point penalty.

Mechelen were implicated in an investigation into suspicions of fraud related to the payment of salaries, commissions to agents and the suspected rigging of two games in March 2018 in a failed effort to save the club from relegation to the second division.

"The Professional Football Appeal Disputes Commission condemns (Mechelen) and four of its administrators for falsifying the competition," said in a statement issued on Saturday.

The commission ruled that four Mechelen directors and three player agents were guilt of "falsifying" the result of a match between Mechelen and Waasland-Beveren on 11 March 2018.

It also acquitted the players of both teams "completely", but found two Waasland-Beveren directors guilty of "failing to comply with a duty to provide information."

Beerschot-Wilrijk will be promoted in Mechelen's place.

"We don't understand this decision, we're innocent. We will now study the case and consider filing an appeal," Mechelen responded in a short message on their website.