AP NEWS

Ostersund denied license to play in Sweden’s top league

November 26, 2019

Weeks after seeing its former chairman sentenced to prison for committing serious financial crimes, Swedish soccer team Ostersund was denied a license to play in the country’s top league because of its economic problems.

Ostersund said it will appeal against a ruling, which — as it stands — will see the club drop down from Allsvenskan into the second-tier Superettan for the 2020 season.

Once regarded as a miracle club, Ostersund resembles something of a crisis club.

The club from a sleepy city in central Sweden recently said it needed to raise 10 million kronor ($1 million) to pay creditors and tax authorities in order to continue operating. Contributions came in from supporters, local businesses, even its former coach Graham Potter, who manages in the English Premier League with Brighton.

However, not enough money has been raised in time to satisfy the Swedish Football Association, which announced on Tuesday that its licensing board has decided Ostersund “does not meet the elite licensing criteria ... for continued operation throughout the next year.”

Ostersund chairwoman Maria Wilen said, “We have ... a different view than them regarding this.”

The club is appealing to the Swedish FA.

Ostersund rose from the amateur ranks in 2011 to the top league in 2015 and won the Swedish Cup in 2017 — all under Potter. That qualified the team for the Europa League, where it advanced to the knockout stage before losing to Arsenal despite winning the second leg 2-1 at Emirates Stadium.

The mastermind behind it all was Daniel Kindberg, a former army battalion commander who became one of the most well-known businessmen in the city. He took a unique approach to the club, believing it needed to be different to grow and survive alongside the bigger and richer clubs in the south of Sweden. Kindberg developed a “Culture Academy” where players learn skills such as stand-up comedy, art, dancing and rapping, and perform them in front of the city’s inhabitants. The idea is to challenge the mental process and decision-making under pressure of players and the coaching staff, something Potter was happy to take on board.

Potter left last year to further his career in Britain.

On Nov. 5, Kindberg was sentenced to three years in prison for funneling millions of kronor in taxpayer money into the club, banned from doing business for five years, and ordered to pay damages. He has announced he will appeal against the conviction.

Short of money, Ostersund is set to lose its place in the top flight in another blow to its status and reputation.

As a result of Ostersund’s demotion, IK Brage will be promoted to Allsvenskan.

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80