Lyn’s lesson has given the top clubs a financial reality check

In 2009 Norway’s top clubs faced a new financial reality. Thanks to lucrative media deals that had given them loads of money, players’ wages had spiralled out of control and the clubs had invested in short-term foreign buys. Sooner or later, though, the bubble would burst; even the strongest clubs have struggled to steer through the difficulties.

Lyn from Oslo were in trouble all season, both on and off the field, and appeared doomed financially. They were finally saved after months of turmoil and have been allowed to continue in level two after being relegated from the top flight.

Since 1991 there have been 26 near-bankruptcies in Norwegian’s top division, but never before has a club come closer to the grave than Lyn. In order to survive they had to sell players such as Kim Holmen, Paul Obiefule, Davy Angan, Erling Knudtzon and Magne Simonsen, and they will have to turn to their youngsters this season.

For years, most clubs dealt with the fact that if financial problems occurred a “rich uncle” or a local bank would move in and solve their problems. The global financial crisis has changed all that and clubs have been forced to solve the problems on their own.

Lyn’s situation was followed closely by the other clubs who were quick to reduce costs. Oslo neighbours Valerenga have been forced to limit the purchase of new players and coach Martin Andresen nearly lost top striker Mohammed “Moa” Abdellaoue this winter. The members of the coaching staff were cut as well.

The transfer window in Norway is open until the end of March and sports director Truls Haakonsen will try to secure new players.

He says: “All Norwegian clubs have an extreme focus on balancing the books now. We believe it is possible to aim for a top spot with a squad that do not put us in economical jeopardy.”

Desperate for success
Even Rosenborg, who are in a unique position with millions in the bank after so many seasons with success in Europe, have had to tighten their belt. The budget for 2010 has a £2.45million deficit and last year’s deficit was double that. Rosenborg are desperate for success again and must rely on new European glory to turn things around.

Brann, who reported a £2.2m loss last year, have been forced to reduce their squad this season by five and the backroom staff have also been cut.

Sports director Roald Bruun-Hansen says: “We did not sell a single player last season.

“Compared to Rosenborg, who sold Alexander Tettey for £4.4m and still have a large deficit, we are minnows who can’t compete on their level.”

Brann winger Erik Huseklepp, who has been tracked by foreign clubs, will be sold if the price is right.

Stabaek are also feeling the pinch and their costly new indoor stadium Telenor Arena does not exactly make their situation easier. Coach Jan Jonsson is happy to see Veigar Pall Gunnarsson back but will mostly have to rely on last year’s squad.

Fredrikstad, relegated after losing out in the play-offs, have certainly felt the pain of this situation. The local municipality had to give them a loan guarantee and the club terminated coach Tom Nordlie’s contract and appointed the less expensive Tom Freddy Aune. A reduced squad will play in the second division’s most attractive stadium this term.

The positive side of the economic plight is that clubs are investing in bringing forward their own talent. Last season 71 players under 20 represented the 16 clubs in league matches compared to 48 the previous season.

Youngsters like Marcus Pedersen (Stromsgodset), Mads Stokkelien (Start), Mikkel Diskerud (Stabaek) and Harmeet Singh (Valerenga) were given enough opportunities last year to make real progress. This season should see others breaking through.