The shock decision dished out by the football licensing authorities on Monday handed Södertälje’s Assyriska a place in the premier league just a day after they’d been condemned to another season in Superettan: Örgryte scored in the 91st minute in the play-offs to secure their own place amongst Swedish football’s elite, and seemingly banish the Södertälje side to another season with the also-rans.
But the licensing authority’s shock decision to throw Örebro out changed everything.
“This is massive news,” Assyriska’s chairman Zeki Bisso told Monday’s Expressen. “But it hasn’t quite sunk in yet…It’ll take a couple of days to sink in that we’re in Allsvenskan.”
Assyriska’s trainer, Edmond Lutaj, wasn’t complaining. “I’m ecstatic,” he confessed. I feel sorry for the lads at Örebro. They’re a good side but the club’s directors haven’t done their job.”
Assyriska’s fans didn’t seem too bothered either about gaining promotion in such an unorthodox fashion.
“It’s a bit weird to go up like this,” Nagib Mekhal told DN. “But we deserve it.”
SvD described the scenes of mass hugging and tears of joy at Assyriska’s training ground when the news broke. “Several of the club’s founders took part in the hugging. Sanharib Elia, Dikran Awrohum and Nail Tashi talked of their memories when the club played in Division 7.”
“We started AFF to integrate into Swedish society. Football was a perfect way of doing this and our youth team has always been really important,” explained Dikran Awrohum, trainer for one of Assyriska’s boy teams.
“We’re now the club in Södermanland with the most extensive youth set-up.”
As for Örebro, they’re in a sorry state. This season has seen wages cut, the resignation of chairman Ove Lindqvist amid the club’s escalating economic crisis and the sale of key players, like striker Petter Furuseth-Olsen, to Hammarby.
Now it looks as though other top players will leave. Aftonbladet speculated on how the team would be dismantled, with goal-keeper John Alvbåge likely to be the number one target of the top clubs.
Understandably Örebro’s legendary player Sven “Dala” Dahlkvist was gutted at the news of relegation. Still, “the licensing authorities must really have had their reasons to do something like this,” he told Expressen.
Örebro SK are the first club since licensing was introduced in 2002 to be relegated because of financial difficulties. In spite of plans to inject money into the club, “they’re at least 550,000 SEK in the red,” Khnnet Thallinger from the licensing authority told DN, “and probably even more”.
Wednesday’s Expressen blamed ÖSK’s failure to sell the name rights to Eyravallen stadium as the primary reason why the club have failed to secure their Allsvenskan licence.
No matter what the reason, it’s a damning indictment of the current state of Swedish football that a club only minutes away from the championship back in 1994 – until IFK came back from behind to snatch the title – would be relegated on a financial technicality ten years later.
Chairmen and club directors across the country will no doubt have slept uneasily this week, cruelly reminded that a bank balance is seemingly more important than goal difference in the age of modern football.