Norwegian football suffers as fans stay away

Rain, a new addiction to "electronic places" and strong competition from Europe are the main reasons Norwegians have abandoned their top-league football, the Eliteserien, judging by a flurry of critical press reports.

Those three key reasons are among a total of nine reasons given for the demise of outdoor audiences attending Norwegian football games, according to newspaper Bergens Tidende. 

At a recent Stabaek match, theclub announced during the game that 5,852 were in attendance, making a mockery of the 1,200 photographed and counted by a Dagbladet photorgrapher as the fans braved cold seats to cheer their teams. Stabaek explained by saying they decided to “include everyone present”.

The Eliteserien’s director Nils Röine refused to acknowledge that all audiences, including TV audiences, were on the decline. VG TV — the digital broadcast arm of the newspaper group — has claimed viewer numbers are down.

“We’ll see,” he said, adding that coming playoff matches will be decisive.

Fans have complained about the lack of hard-to-predict league timetables: unlike in other professional sports, the Eliteserien league has struggled to fix the dates of championship matches, a key planning demand of fans.

Others blame the record rain over the largely open stands and a nationwide stay-at-home feeling that endures after the summer’s massacres, when a politically motivated gunman hunted down teenagers at a youth camp for Young Labour.

In Aftenposten’s special report on the sport, coaches worried about the trend toward near-zero spectators and blamed the league’s long season, spread from June to November with games four days a week.

“Games were once only on Sundays,” said Lilleström coach Henning Berge, adding that many now have no idea when to listen or watch, as schedules change. He suggested deals with TV stations for prime time were partly to blame for the spread.

“TV companies are not especially happy about having to show half-full stands,” said Berge.

Röine, too, suggested better cooperation with TV networks was perhaps the key.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Nordic countries to launch joint bid to host 2027 World Cup

Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland want to jointly host the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2027.

Nordic countries to launch joint bid to host 2027 World Cup
Sweden players during this year's World Cup in France. Photo: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The five Nordic nations want to share hosting duties for the 2027 edition of the World Cup finals and are to present the idea to the Nordic Council at a meeting in Stockholm on Tuesday, Danish football association DBU has confirmed.

FIFA is already positively disposed to joint bids for future finals tournaments, which has lent encouragement to the Nordic project, according to DBU's chairman Jesper Møller.

“We can see that support for women's football is here to stay, most recently at the (2019) World Cup in France, where matches were played in front of full stadiums and television viewers' interest was huge,” Møller said.

“A joint Nordic World Cup would not only ensure a fantastic experience for many football fans but will also strengthen important Nordic partnerships and community, and hopefully inspire many football-keen women and girls,” he continued.

“That's why support from the Nordic Council is important,” he added.

The Nordic Council (Nordisk Råd) is the official body for inter-parliamentary co-operation among the five Nordic countries and three territories of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the Åland Islands.

DBU is also looking into the possibility of hosting the 2025 European Championships in Denmark.