Teams merge and stadiums disappear almost faster than the average politician makes and breaks a promise. In 'De Kempen' in Belgium this is no different. And something is about to happen in Lille. KFC Lille has to leave their current stadium and is seeking refuge in a merger.
But first the past. In the middle between Herentals and Turnhout you can find Lille, not to be confused with the French Lille. It wouldn't be the first time busses arrive in Belgium while they should have arrived in France. The local villagers only started enjoying football in their own Lille in 1938 when FC De Heidebloem Sint-Pieters-Lille was created. The next decennia the team would only play in the regional leagues. For almost 50 years they would lead a peaceful existence in the famous lower leagues.
In 1987 the team received the royal title and in 1988 they actually incorporated that title in their name; Koninklijke Football Club De Heidebloem Sint-Pieters-Lille. It seems the team needed that title to progress in the leagues. Because not long after they would gain an enormous boost with serious effects. In the meantime they started playing in a new stadium. It was already officially opened in 1979, but De Heidebloem only started using Sportcentrum Balsakker for A games in 1982.
In 1995 De Heidebloem promoted to the national leagues for the very first time and after a difficult start they stabilised in that fourth division. Just before the millennium change (1999) the name was changed into the more simple KFC Lille. Two years later they even had an opportunity to promote to third division as they played playoffs. Unfortunately they didn't make it and it crawled in the heads. In 2004 KFC Lille relegated to the regional leagues.
Two years later KFC Lille returned and again they managed to get to the playoffs for promotion to third division. In 2008 they lost the finals for promotion and again they faced relegation shortly after. In 2011 it became a regional story again and apart from one year in 2016 KFC Lille remained in the top regional league. Today they still play there, but the future looks a bit different. Huge changes are facing them...
By May 2022 Sportcentrum Balsakker will be no longer. KFC Lille and the village of Lille will split ways and KFC Lille will move to a different location. That new location was found in the neighbouring village of Poederlee. But... there is already a team playing there. The former KFC Poederlee was followed up by VC Poederlee and they are still very much alive and kicking. A merger sounds like a logical consequence. Other teams were involved as well, but amongst others FC Gierle kindly declined. We heard whispers stating the new name will become Lille United, but we can't confirm on this. What we can confirm is that not only the Balsakker ground will disappear. The current VC Poederlee will be demolished as well to build a brand new stadium on the same location.
Last chance to visit both for groundhoppers...