• Reuters


Belgian second-tier club Lokeren face going out of business after its owner on Monday said that the club had failed to meet a deadline to find an investor to ward off bankruptcy.

"Despite all our efforts, we have not been able to attract the necessary investors in a timely manner," Lokeren chairman Louis De Vries said in a statement.

He added that the club would no longer contest a request to the Belgian commercial court to declare it bankrupt.

Lokeren, which reached the UEFA Cup quarterfinals in 1981, had its professional licence withdrawn earlier this month by the Belgian Football Association.

However, the club had hoped to launch an appeal once it found money to help pay off debts, which Belgian media estimated at €5 million ($5.43 million).

"To my great regret and sorrow, I must inform you that, despite all efforts up to and including yesterday, we have not been able to attract the necessary investors in time to meet the deadline to appeal for the club licence to ensure continuity,” added De Vries.

"After a thorough evaluation, we have had to decide that our lawyer will accept the decision to be brought before the commercial court today."

Belgian media said Lokeren's players — who include Japanese midfielder Jun Amano and defender Ryota Koike — were still owed wages and payments to suppliers were also outstanding.

The club won four of 28 second-division games this season and was to play in the promotion-relegation playoff matches before the league was suspended, and then canceled, because of the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

Lokeren, which won the Belgian Cup in 2012 and 2014 and knocked English club Hull City out of the Europa League six years ago, was due to celebrate its 50th anniversary in June.

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