How long will KV Oostende weather the storm? In just a few years, the Coastal Crew has gone from the life stage to the end stage. Mark Cook's departure left wounds that others left to fester. Research on the causes of the fall of Ostend.
“I have been through a lot all these years. But what I see around me now is simply painful.”
A club icon from KV Oostende is searching for the right words to describe the worrying situation with the coastal club. Not a day goes by without sharing sad news at the seaside.
Testimonials about volunteers, suppliers, employees and unpaid players. But there are also stories of saving on “basic necessities” that are taken for granted at other professional clubs – think coffee in the canteen, first-team medical staff, and offices for staff.
However, it feels like it was yesterday The sky's the limit It was for KVO. Nowhere did champagne flow more freely than at notorious parties Strange plow.
Mark Cook entertained thousands of VIPs with performances. The fans achieved the pinnacle of their success thanks to European football, the cup final, and the transfers of big names like Nicolas Lumbertz.
Now Ostend is woefully last in 1B with a team full of noble unknowns. We are well aware that every match could now be the last.
How could things get so bad so quickly?
Ask around Ostend about the main culprits and the same names are constantly repeated.
Shepherd Mark Cook's journey caused his first major setback. Under the accomplished businessman, the club amassed a wealth of achievements, but the legacy was also difficult.
When Cook moves to Anderlecht at the end of 2017, KVO is left with an uncertain future (and a debt hole).
The former president is still demanding €6.2 million, with the resulting rental fee amounting to €1.2 million. For Ostend, the runway – despite recently reduced compensation – becomes a financial noose around the neck.
The “Temple of Doom”, fans sometimes call the structure.
He frowns at the way Coucke quickly leaves KVO behind Insiders Even today eyebrows.
The transfer to fellow businessman and good friend Peter Callant was almost immediately seen as a false maneuver by the limited The power of capital in the Flemish West.
In just over a year, incumbent Frank Dierkins will take office, but his pockets are by no means deep enough to fill the holes left by Cook. From rain to drip, that is.
Due to the owner's misery, Ostend was at risk of losing its license for the first time at the beginning of 2020.
“We need 2.7 million euros,” Dirkens confirmed at the time. “But a foreign acquirer is the last option.”
The American dream
About a month after this statement, Ostend announced that she would be joining the organization Pacific Media GroupIt is an investment company backed by American and Chinese funds. Thanks to a final lifebuoy of 4.2 million, KVO was saved from bankruptcy.
In the world of football, PMG was known as a successful formation at the time. In about 3 years, the group sold the French company OGC Nice for four times the purchase price.
They thought it would also work for KV Oostende.
The project described at the beginning caught the imagination.
The new administrators, with Paul Conway as the poster boy, claimed to have used revolutionary data to find underrated players. to com.gegenpressing – Getting the ball back quickly – There was also a clear tactical philosophy.
In addition, Conway and his colleagues also promised an additional sports car The American dream, with a scene on and next to the stands. Fans will provide the atmosphere, there will be raffles for great prizes and no fan will have to go hungry with free pizza.
The evening at KV Oostende was to include more than an hour and a half of partying.
Corona has thrown a spanner in the works, but PMG appears to be keeping its promises when it comes to sports. Under German coach Alexander Plessen, Ostend became a revelation, with trendsetters such as Thiat, Bataille, Sakala and Gulsager. It is important to note that none of them came through famous data scouts.
Spoiler: The cheerful side of the story ends here.
Everyone had to save money at KVO, but during his travels between different PMG clubs, all of Conway's costs ended up in Ostend. Even a Snickers bar.
Fast forward to 2024 and in Ostend there is no longer a positive word to be heard about “the Americans”.
Anonymous sources speak of “sport mismanagement” and “forms of self-enrichment” by some managers.
Paul Conway, among others, has played a prominent role in recent years. The representative of the American investment group had to make sure there was a good policy, but his knowledge of football was very poor.
An insider: “For example, he declared that doctors and physiotherapists were not necessary at the club and he knew nothing about Belgian legislation.”
Another witness: “Everyone had to save money at KVO, but during his trips between different PMG clubs, all the costs ended up on Ostend. Even a Snickers bar from the gas station.”
Mismanagement and unpaid bills
Funds for reinforcements were rarely available.
Despite some excellent sales – such as Arthur Theate (6.75 million), Jack Hendry (4.5 million) and Jelle Bataille (2 million) – little money is being reinvested in reinforcements alongside CEO Gauthier Ganaye and COO Thorsten Theys.
Or definitely the wrong way.
Many of Ganaye's “data transfers” – according to people who knew something about them – failed almost immediately in terms of quality, but were awarded extremely onerous and long-term contracts.
Source: “A player who has not yet proven anything at the level received a salary of more than 20 thousand euros per month and an expensive loft. During the first training sessions he could not even fulfill the promises.”
Whenever there's a stroke of luck between transfers, strange things happen.
For example, Mikael Peron makes an excellent impression in the build-up for KVO, but the striker suddenly becomes a plaything in a strange lineup with sister club Nancy.
The French second division club will need around €5 million to obtain a license in the summer of 2021. KVO pays the exorbitant sum to Peron, then casually rents him to Nancy.
Another curious note: Janai – “usually unreachable and only at the club for an average of one day” – was on the payroll of both clubs. Those familiar with the financial flows confirm that the duo received double wages.
One of them asserts: “If someone gets to the bottom of their affairs, people will end up in prison.”
They will certainly no longer try to correct the imbalanced situation in Ostend. Ganaye began working as CEO of RWDM in the summer – ironically Wednesday's KVO Cup contender – and they have not been active since October.
You no longer have to go to many places if you are a KVO.
Traces of mismanagement increasingly crept into the daily affairs of Ostend.
Partners, such as the bakery and coffee supplier, have halted deliveries due to unpaid invoices. The coastal team also ended up blacklisted in several hotels.
“You don't have to go to many places anymore if you're a KVO,” it seems. “The minute you show your face, they start talking about outstanding bills.”
Another telling anecdote: A few weeks before his dismissal, former coach Yves Vanderhaeghe wanted to go into isolation for an important match to avoid traffic jams, but this plan could not go ahead for financial reasons.
Ostend arrived half an hour late for the match in question. After Vanderhaeghe's dismissal, there was suddenly money again to spend the night away from home.
The situation fell to its lowest levels in recent weeks when the federal and social debts led to a 9-point discount.
For the first time, the players did not receive their salaries on time, causing a mini-strike towards the match against Zulte-Waregem.
From an alarming situation to a hopeless one.
Avoid an early death sentence
KV Oostende is a patient in palliative care, where everyone knows that the last breath is closer than a miracle cure.
It is significant that Frank Derkins announced yesterday that he will resign as Chairman of the Board of Directors, despite his big heart and many (financial) efforts for KVO. Caretaker coach Michel Junqueri left for the club's under-18 team immediately after the match against Zulte Wargen.
Even if they don't see it working anymore…
“Ostend was often on the verge of bankruptcy, but there was a vision at the time,” one employee said. “Now I don't hear anything about the plan.”
In recent days, the city council and sponsors have also loudly criticized the lack of transparency from the American owners.
Because who is actually at the helm of the sinking ship? Paul Conway was sacked from the board at the end of October, but has now returned to a prominent role.
To the disgust of many, although others claim that Conway is the only one still roaming America to find money. They're just not naive there either – everyone sees how almost all the clubs in PMG's portfolio fade away both sportingly and financially.
It is claimed that loyal Ostend fans are already being asked to borrow part of their savings. In exchange for usurious interest, which they may never receive.
The coming weeks are sure to be crucial for KVO.
Last December 20, the Belgian Football Association made the decision to cancel due to outstanding bills. The death sentence for No. 31 seemed imminent, but this doomsday scenario has been averted in recent days by paying off the most serious debts.
According to sources, there is dormant interest from some (American) buyers, but the potential tax claim of more than 5 million euros by the tax authorities for the questionable runway deal is deterring everyone.
Moreover, the sporting prospects are not attractive either. What bona fide foreigner these days wants to invest in a club that will soon be playing amateur football?
In docuseries Children of the coast One time, one of the KVO directors made a joke about the Titanic and KV Mechelen after the victory…
Meanwhile, it's clear who's sailing straight into the iceberg.
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