Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel, Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup and many more big names have Brondby to thank for so much. Now however the club sits bottom of the Danish top-flight amid financial turmoil. Could we be saying goodbye to this once great club?
Danish football is currently enjoying a much coveted winter break. The professional players from the SAS Ligaen are not expected to report for duty again until Sunday the 3rd March 2013. Do not be fooled and believe that this means the drama has stopped in the Nordic country as for one team this winter may last longer than anticipated; or indeed wanted.
At the start of the season the likes of AS Horsens, Randers and Esbjerg were tipped to struggle in the top flight of Danish football and if one of these teams currently sat at the foot of the table it is likely nobody outside the Danish population would care; and it is also likely I would not be writing this article.
However after the opening 20 fixtures of the season the team propping up the rest is Brondby IF; the legendary Copenhagen club deemed the biggest football team in the nation. It marks the first time the club has been in such a situation at this 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 right now the club finds itself in a not dissimilar predicament. The club is in a terrible state of affairs financially and the presence of highly paid players such as ex-internationals Dennis Rommedahl and Martin Albrechtsen has not helped matters. Even the sale of star player Michael Krohn-Dehli in the summer has done little to alleviate the heavy debt at the club.
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.
If you are looking for a good comparison model Rangers would be your best bet. There was a time when nobody ever considered such a fate as Division Three Scottish football befalling Glasgow Rangers. The same would once of been said about Drengene Fra Vestegnen but now their Scottish contemporaries act as an indicator of the serious trouble that may lie ahead for the club.
As of late December the word was being spread that the club had secured enough finances to stay afloat until the restart of the Danish football season. They also have to find the funds to pay a hefty fine after recent crowd trouble which will also decrease gate receipt revenue with two games being played behind closed doors.
Their infamously passionate fans wait impatiently to see if in that time an investor can be found to save this floundering giant; before it is consigned to the ever growing pile in the European football club rubbish bin.
What do you make of the troubles at Brondby IF?
image: © vortistic