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Brabrand IF cannot afford to gain promotion but...

Bradbrand IF has just started its season in Denmark's 2nd division after having been relegated. But this club from Aarhus is in a very specific situation which pushed the owner to stop professional contracts and have only amateur players. Yet, the team has had a great start of the season with their new model. Learn about their story.

Bradbrand IF had a great start of the season 2018/2019 in Denmark 2nd division

Svend Bertil Frandsen
From Denmark

Aarhus is arguably Denmark’s football city nr.1. While most of the financial stronghold in Danish football is located in Copenhagen, the magnitude of support for AGF in Aarhus makes it perhaps the most popular side in Denmark. But while AGF are completely the dominant force in Aarhus, the rest of the the teams in the city (Aarhus Fremad, Skovbakken and Brabrand) are kept on life support from the scraps and left overs that are occasionally thrown to them from big brother, AGF.

Brabrand is usually mostly known for the big lake that surrounds the area and a huge residential area which houses a great deal of immigrants from the Middle East. However, on occasion the local side, Brabrand IF, have also been able to grab nationwide headlines with unlikely results (for instance when they beat the newly-promoted Superliga-outfit Vejle BK in the past season).

Follow the Denmark 2nd Division on mycujoo

Performing beyond their ability

Brabrand gained recognition across the country when around the turn of the century, with the help of AGF-legend Lars Lundkvist, they gained promotion over a number of years from the lower leagues for the Danish 2nd. Division. They were also promoted to the 1st. Division in 2009, but have on three occasions been instantly relegated for the 2.division, as was also the case in the past season. Chairman Flemming Møller explains to mycujoo that during those years in the 1st .Division, the club was actually exceeding the level that could be expected of them.

"We have had some good times in the 1.Division and have had amazing results against the likes of Vejle, Viborg, Vendsyssel and Roskilde, clubs who operate on a player-budget which is probably around 20-30 times higher than ours. Their financial back-up and whole set-up is also of a completely different magnitude than ours and it is very difficult to be able to compete within that frame", says Flemming Møller. The Chairman, who is also the owner of the company (Brabrand Kontraktfodbold A/S) behind the club, took a drastic decision over the summer to cancel all professional contracts and turn the club into amateur status for one simple reason: The club cannot afford to gain promotion to the 1st. Division.

Rising standards

"Over the years the demands from the Danish FA to qualify for a license to play in the 1st.Division has risen steadily in terms of security, stadium capacity, lighting, etc," says Flemming Møller. Over the years Brabrand have repeatedly been given a dispensation to play in their own stadium despite the fact that they did not live up to those demands, but now the patience from the FA has run dry. This means that Brabrand will be forced to play all their home fixtures at Ceres Park (which houses AGF). But Brabrand are unable to pay the rent over a whole year and in reality can´t afford to gain promotion. However, despite the tough conditions Flemming Møller does have sympathy for the rules instigated by the Danish FA.

"We are not going to make protests against the system. The FA are only doing their job and of course everything related to arranging football matches must also be developed. For years and years we have produced beyond our means. We have always been regarded as a “feeder club”, but of course the image of the club as purely a place for developing young talent is much clearer now. And as the municipal authorities are not prepared to help us out in this situation, the gap between us and professional clubs will certainly grow", says Flemming Møller. Today Brabrand have stopped offering professional contracts as it does not make sense to invest in a project which is targetless.

Bradbrand IF had to change strategy after being relegated in Denmark 2nd division

This has naturally caused a large number of key players to leave the club, among those the former Superliga-player Mads Schäfer who chose to move on to Skive IK. "I really enjoyed my time at the club but of course I could not play under those conditions. The only incentive for young players to remain at Brabrand as things are now is that playing in the 2.division offers you a platform where you can hope that other clubs will spot your talent. Brabrand has of course always been a feeder club especially for other Jutland - and Aarhus clubs but now its even worse", says the 28-year old Schäfer, who is considering to end his career after this season after completing a university degree.

Fine start

The club lost its leading goalscorer, Kenan Hajdarevic before spring last year as the clear-out slowly began at Brabrand. "We were ten points behind our most immediate rivals at the bottom of the league when we lost Kenan and we still almost avoided relegation in the end, and that really shows the potential of the club. I understand that the Danish FA have an obligation to keep developing standards but it’s a shame when it creates a scenario where issues that aren’t performance-related blocks you from achieving your goals", says Mads Schäfer in a final comment.

Lasse Møberg has scored 5 goals in 6 games at the start of the Denmark 2nd Division 2018/2019 season

Despite this new status, Brabrand has managed an impressive start to the season, topping the 2nd Division with 14 points in six games, and Lasse Møberg already having scored 5 goals. "The ambition is to reach the top 6 so that in spring we can join in the promotion round. It's a realistic goal, but we can not rest on our laurels. We are a little wounded, so we go out and give that gas. But if we do that, have a bit of luck and find the rhythm quickly, then it will become possible for us to have a chance to play promotion games in spring", said the coach, Tom Søjberg, before the start of the season on Brabrand's website. So far, his plan is working out perfectly...

All photos courtesy of BS Sports & Media