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Union Saint-Gilloise cancel stadium renovation

Union Saint-Gilloise have been one of the darlings of European football in recent years. Once one of Belgium’s great teams, they have re-emerged under Brighton owner Tony Bloom following a period in the doldrums.

Now fighting at the top of the Belgian Pro League and beating the likes of Liverpool in Europe, Union’s ascent has come way ahead of schedule.

But that of course means that their infrastructure has been struggling to keep up – and nowhere is that more obvious than when you look at their stadium.

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Union Saint-Gilloise line up at Anderlecht's Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, where they have had to play their European games. Photo by Icon Sport

Why do Union Saint-Gilloise want to upgrade their stadium?

Remarkably for a team fighting in Europe, Union Saint-Gilloise’s stadium, the Joseph Marien Stadium, has a capacity of 9,400.

In terms of appearance, the stadium is more akin to your local non-league ground than it is to the likes of Anfield or the BayArena – two teams who also competed in the Europa League this season.

The stadium has no VIP area or press room of any note. Because of all of these factors, Union have had to play their European matches at Anderlecht’s Constant Vanden Stock Stadium and OH Leuven’s King Power Stadium. 

Why have Union Saint-Gilloise cancelled their stadium renovation?

As is often the case with these sorts of things, the reason why Union cannot expand their stadium is quite boring.

The park next to the stadium, called Duden Park, is a protected site. A recent study by urban.brussels concluded that expanding the stadium would be impossible without expanding into the park.

As Brussels Secretary of State for Urban Planning and Heritage, Ans Persoons, said: “A larger stadium would inevitably require encroaching on part of the park.”

Persoons expressed her regret that Union are “currently at the pinnacle of Belgian football and playing European matches each year, [yet] is financially restricted due to the antiquated state of the stadium.”

The club will now have to look into building a new stadium at a completely different site.


Jamie Barton

A freelance football writer and podcaster, Jamie has appeared on/in the BBC World Service, PA Media, Charlton Athletic FC and Empire of the Kop, among others. He's attended matches all around the world, from Tranmere to Tokyo, and once had his bus home from the 2022 Champions League final in Paris delayed by 28 hours.

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