Laura Vanauskas looks at the father and son millionaires who own Belgium's biggest club
Distinguishing features: Constant is a self made millionaire of the old school who presided over the club like it was his family. He liked to think he knew what was best for everyone and was known to have meddled in the daily running of the team. His eldest son, Roger, who took over last season, is simply a chip off the old block.
Habitat: Constant inherited a small family business which he turned into one of the biggest breweries in Belgium. He also managed to make a national delicacy – Gueuze-beer – one of the country’s better known products for which he received an ‘export Oscar’. Most days, he can still be found at the... Constant Van den Stock stadium, one of Belgium’s most modern and comfortable grounds.
What use are they? Constant was born in the Anderlecht district and made his first team debut as a 16 year old, though his career was to be cut short by the Second World War. He joined the Anderlecht board in the Fifties and by the end of the decade was the Belgian national team manager, a post he held for ten years. Moving back to Anderlecht as President in 1971 he helped them become one of Europe’s top clubs (three Cup Winners Cup Final appearances in successive years from 1976). Roger’s first year was nearly a disaster with a UEFA Cup place clinched only on the final day thanks to their nearest rivals, Lommel, slipping up late on. Already this season they have lost four games out of six including all three at home. Cynics have pointed out a sudden penalty drought. Marginal and not-so-marginal decisions used to go Anderlecht’s way. That doesn’t seem to happen any more.
Who remembers their birthdays? Anderlecht are the club that Belgians either love or loathe, but even among Anderlecht-haters, Constant has remained reasonably popular. People just don’t want to believe that the country’s most prominent football figure could have been involved in dodgy dealings.
Quote Unquote: Constant admitted having paid around £20,000 to Guruceta Muro, the referee of Anderlecht’s UEFA Cup Semi against Forest but says, “This was after the match and was only done because the referee was in financial trouble”. Unfortunately Roger told a different story: “My father confirmed to me that the ref asked for the money before the game in order not to be against Anderlecht”.
Other offences to be taken into consideration: Could anyone be so gullible as to give a substantial sum of money to a complete stranger, who happens to be a ref in a crucial European match, and then actually want us to believe that it was just a loan?
From WSC 129 November 1997. What was happening this month