After 23 years as chairman, Ivan De Witte leaves the door ajar for succession: “I am willing to think about my position”
9 de January, 2023
AA Gent chairman Ivan De Witte (76) was a guest in the podcast De Tribune and tackled two current themes about AA Gent: the search for external investors, linked to his succession and the amicable settlement that general manager Michel Louwagie reached in the Clean Hands file, so that it does not come to a trial regarding fraud and money laundering. After more than 23 years as chairman, De Witte is prepared to pass on the torch.
Michael Van Damme
Since the summer of 1999 – 23.5 years – Ivan De Witte has been chairman of AA Gent, but has opened the door for a new name. AA Gent closed for the third year in a row with a loss, on the latest annual accounts 6 million. De Witte is therefore thinking – following the example of many Belgian clubs – about external investors, but that also means being open to new administrators in addition to or instead of himself and general manager Michel Louwagie.
“We also have to think about external investors,” said Ivan De Witte in the Podcast De Tribune. “A club like Ghent must always compete in the top regions of the rankings. In order to compete in the football world, large assets have become almost necessary. In principle, we have not done that for a long time, but we must now also start to be open to external investors. If the right party presents itself and it benefits our club, I am willing to think about my position. There are already interesting possibilities at the moment, but I won’t just let the first one into our club. I have always guaranteed the well-being of the club and I want to guarantee that with a possible successor. The values of the organization or person must fit the club.”
“Settlement is not an admission of guilt”
Ivan De Witte also discussed the amicable settlement reached by general manager Michel Louwaie in the so-called Clean Hands file. Louwagie was one of 57 names referred to court in the fraud and money laundering case. He took advantage of the opportunity to reach an amicable settlement, which means that no trial will take place.
“It is good to say that an amicable settlement is not an admission of guilt,” says De Witte. “We thought a settlement was the best option.”
De Witte did not specifically comment on the exact facts of which Michel Louwagie is suspected.
“It concerns three things, but as a club we have come to the conclusion that they do not stand in the way of Michel Louwagie’s functioning. On the contrary.”
Louwagie pays the fine himself. “If the club paid that, there would only be a mixing of facts.”