Brondby IF have had a huge turnaround in their fortunes.
December 2012 and the Danish football league has broken for its warranted winter break - with a drama unfolding behind the scenes at its most historic of clubs.
After the opening 20 fixtures of the season the team propping up the rest of the SAS Ligaen was Brondby IF - the legendary Copenhagen club deemed the biggest football team in the nation. It marked the first time the club had been in such a situation at the winter break stage of a Danish top flight season.
Much of Brondby’s legend stems from their very own ‘Johann Cruyff’ figure in Michael Laudrup. The current Swansea boss became the first Brondby player to ever play for his country in 1982. His sale to Juventus in 1983 allowed the club to secure themselves financially becoming the first ever fully functioning professional club in the country in 1986.
Only a late AS Roma goal courtesy of Rudi Voller denied the club a place in the UEFA Cup Final in 1991 and while the nation was jubilant a year later the club was struggling. The backbone of Denmark’s historic 1992 European Championship team were Brondby alumni - the likes of Peter Schmeichel, John Jensen, Lars Olsen, Brian Laudrup and Kim Vilfort to name a few.
Their star players moved abroad off the back of such success and a takeover from Interbank collapsed leaving the club in massive debt. The emergence of a brand new team from the city called FC Kobenhaven, merged from KB and B 1903, also acted as a source for concern.
As it is was, around this time last year, the club found itself in serious financial meltdown. The club was riddled by debt and in a terrible state of affairs financially. Even the sale of star player Michael Krohn-Dehli in the summer did little to alleviate the problem.
Indeed the club has been on the slide for a number of years now. Not since a Michael Laudrup managed side containing the likes of Daniel Agger, Johan Elmander and Thomas Kahlenberg won the double in 2004-05 has the club tasted a domestic league title, while their fierce New Firm rivals FC Kobenhaven and the likes of AaB and FC Nordsjaelland have enjoyed that pleasure.
In recent years the club has chopped and changed managers and undergone several high-profile boardroom disputes and sponsorship issues that has seen their finances diminish. Former director Jesper Nielsen is still being pursued over money owed to the club.
Well the club steadied the ship last term, and ended up finishing five points above the relegation mark in ninth place - much to the relief of Brondby fans.
One of which is a millionaire shipping magnate based in London. Jen Bech Andersen, himself a former footballer, has plunged money into the club recently as he increases his share price in the club.
Earlier this year he was one of many investors, including Peter Schmeichel, who took over the club from its previous management - which had paralysed it financially.
Aldo Petersen is now the chairman, and he has been convincing Andersen to continue giving money to the club.
And it has worked in regards to player recruitment.
The ex-Chelsea player in question is of course former Dutch international Khalid Boulharouz, while Thomas Kahlenberg and Christian Norgard have returned from the Bundesliga.The likes of Lukas Hradecky, Kenneth Zohore and Michael Almeback have also arrived in 2013 - as this sinking ship finally gets away from choppy waters.
But despite their back to Hollywood status nobody will be getting carried away. They recently had to settle millions of holiday pay debt to former players and employees that left the board furious with the previously inept owners.
But now, in good hands at last, the signing of Boulharouz is just another sign that Brondby are back from the brink.
image: © vortistic