Belgian football club bought by Malta-registered company for €10

The sale of the club to Latimer allows Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz to obtain a licence for the 2016/17 season

Malta-registered company Gol Football Malta, which in 2015 bought a Belgian football club for €8.5 million, has sold the club for €10 to another Maltese company, Latimer International Limited. 

In July 2015, Israeli super agent Pini Zahavi saved Belgian top flight club Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz from financial ruin by investing a reported €8.5 million in the club to buy 90% of the shares.

However, in a bid to circumvent FIFA rules, which prohibit clubs from being owned or controlled by football agents, the club was sold for €10 to another Malta-registered company owned by Zahavi’s nephew, Adar. 

The change of ownership in February has caused a storm within Belgium’s footballing world, with many questioning why the sale was allowed by footballing authorities. 

“The price of four loaves of bread. That’s what the Maltese company Latimer paid to be owner of Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz,” Belgian online newspaper Sport/Voetbalmagazine said. 

The sale of the club to Latimer allows Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz to obtain a licence for the 2016/17 season. 

Latimer has a capital of €1,200 yet days after it acquired the club, it injected €2.5 million in the club, raising suspicion on the true source of the money. 

Although FIFA’s third-party ownership rule prohibits agents from owning or managing clubs, the super agent’s relatives, Adar Zahavi and Gil Zahavi sit on the board of directors. 

Mouscron-Péruwelz went bankrupt in 2010 and despite being promoted to the top tier of Belgian football for the first time ever in 2014, the club has been in a fragile financial state ever since, generating little revenue and attracting few fans.  

French Ligue 1 club Lille became a majority shareholder of the Belgian club, but parted ways with Mouscron-Péruwelz in 2015. 

The Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said Al Said, with an estimated net worth of $700M, was rumored to be interested in taking over the club, but this never materialised.

In July 2015, Zahavi and Abdilgafar ‘Fali’ Ramadani bought the club with Belgian media describing the Maltese company Gol Football Malta, which is owned by Zahavi’s Gibraltar company Gol Football (Gibraltar) International, as a “smokescreen.”

Zahavi committed to inject €8.5 million over three seasons to not only cover costs, but increase the playing budget by 50%.

English giants Chelsea, who have close ties to Zahavi, could stand to gain from the Israeli agent’s involvement with the Belgian club.  

Chelsea could use Mouscron-Péruwelz to blood younger players, allowing them to develop in the top-flight football.

In 2003 Zahavi was central to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s acquisition of Chelsea, and to the influx of star players that followed. 

Zahavi became an influential member of Abramovich’s inner circle and was estimated to have earned as much as €6.5 million from the €146 million Chelsea spent on players that summer.

The Belgian club could be used by Chelsea to circumvent strict work permit laws in the UK and sign non-EU players who can be signed by the English club at a later stage once they have played in an EU country.