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20 elite clubs crashed in 3 years: "We are at a turning point"

Swedish elite sports are in a crisis. In just three years, 20 elite clubs in six different sports have vanished from the elite leagues. Responding to this in Swedish television (Sportspegeln on SVT), Professor and Director for the Center for Sports & Business at the SSE, Martin Carlsson-Wall notes: "I believe we are at a turning point."

20 elite clubs vanished in 3 years 

SVT Sport's series "The Crash of Elite Clubs" has examined the reality of elite sports in Sweden, and it seems tougher than ever to make the finances work. Swedish elite sports are in a crisis. Over the past three years, 20 clubs have vanished from the elite leagues. Clubs ranging from six different sports: football, ice hockey, bandy, speedway, basketball, and volleyball. Notably, seven of them have also won national championships in the past ten years. 

I believe we are at a turning point.
Martin Carlsson-Wall
Professor and Director for the Center for Sports & Business

Commercialization's impact on Swedish sports

Explaining the reasons for why the Swedish sports ecosystem is in such a financial turmoil, Carlsson-Wall continues:

"In the last 30-40 years, the forces of commercialization have enormously affected sports. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in the early '90s, TV became significant, driving certain sports. The Premier League and the Champions League came into being. We have a sports landscape where the big ones become even bigger winners, and the small ones are marginalized more and more. Then came the pandemic, followed by global investors, and here sit many sports, perhaps in a small community in Sweden, wondering what happened." 

COVID-pandemic, long-term trend and new money 

The COVID-19 pandemic also had its considerable toll on Swedish sports:

"During the pandemic, Swedish sports were fantastic. There were many dedicated enthusiasts in both big cities and small towns who made enormous contributions to their clubs and smaller associations. But the feeling I get is that they fought so hard, so now, after the pandemic, there's nothing left. And when the system itself, not only in Sweden but internationally, has become more commercialized, people don't have the energy to tackle yet another mountain they must overcome", says Martin Carlsson-Wall

"The long-term trend, the pandemic, and new money. These three factors make it very challenging."

Need for renewal: increased competency and expectations

A solution to the crisis may be to increase competency in the administrative offices:

"To be honest, there's a wealth of knowledge that could be of great assistance. In the world of sports, we replace coaches, and we have high demands on players. But within the offices and the administrative side, the same level of expectation is not present at all. If such a change were to occur, I believe Swedish sports would fare much better."

SVT Sport's "The Crash of Elite Clubs"

To watch SVT Sport's series about "the Crash of Elite Clubs" please click here

Sports and Business