After four years of declining attendance fans are returning to the Allsvenskan in droves for 2011.
Nearly every team in the Allsvenskan said it expects an increase in attendance at home matches this year, a much-needed turn-around from recent years. Attendance last year dropped to a league-wide average of slightly more than 6,500, the lowest since 1998.
This year, however, ticket sales are booming, even among teams experts give slim chances of winning the Lennart Johansson trophy.
Defending league champs Malmö FF have already sold more than 15,000 season tickets, an increase of 1,500. IFK Goteborg, with its re-tooled lineup and gold-medal expectations, saw an increase of 2,500 to more than 10,000 tickets. Syrianska, playing in its first Allsvenskan season, has sold 2,670 season passes, an increase of 1,000 over last year when the team was in the Superettan.
The two biggest jumps came in Kalmar and Norrköping. Kalmar plans to open the season in its new Guldfågel Arena and has sold 4,285 season tickets, an increase of 2,700. Peking also saw an increase in sale of 2,700 for Idrottsparken to 5,307. Norrköping invested heavily in talent as it looks to remain in the Allsvenskan after winning promotion from the Superettan.
Pays to be the home team It’s pay day at Djurgården, or make that pay dirt. The Stockholm club said it stands to make between 6 million and 8 million kronor ($930,000 to $1.2 million) from ticket sales and concessions at the season opener April 4. The reason? DIF plays city rivals AIK in its opener and ticket sales are booming. According to the club, DIF and AIK combined have sold more than 16,000 tickets to the game, which they are playing at Råsunda Stadium, Stockholm, and the sales keep coming.
“We had two other derbys at the start of the season and we had crowds of more than 30,000 for each of those,” said Djurgården ticket manager Thomas af Geijerstam. “There’s no reason to think we won’t do that well again.”
If it reaches the 30,000 mark in attendance, the cash injection could go a long way in helping DIF curb its mounting debt. The club entered the 2011 season carrying nearly 30 million kronor ($4.7 million) in red ink and income from this one game could cut that debt by nearly 25 percent.
Rolle out the red carpet
If news stories are true, Malmö manager Roland Nilsson is all but gone this summer. Numerous reports have linked Nilsson to a summer move to Danish club FC Copenhagen after his contract expires in June.
Nilsson, however, didn’t wait around to get out town. The gold-winning manager from last season flew out to Dubai to attend a “pop star wedding,” published reports said March 29. The reports did not mention which pop star.
Malmö officials said Nilsson told the club last month he planned to attend the nuptials. However, the timing again made headlines about an imminent departure as Nilsson was absent from three days of training just a week before the season opens April 4.
Malmö manager Roland "Rolle" Nilsson - from Dubai to Denmark? Bildbyrån photo
Lawns on soccer fields all over Sweden have been prepared for the first games of Allsvenskan over the weekend. Here, the lawn at Gamla Ullevi in Göteborg is treated with special lamps to help the grass grow. Bildbyrån photo