Norwegian football officials in two large Oslo-area clubs were indicted on Wednesday with criminal fraud in a case involving the transfer of Icelandic player Veigar Pall Gunnarsson from Stabæk Fotball to Vålerenga last year. They face six years in prison if found guilty.
Sports commentators on Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) said it was one of the most serious cases to ever hit Norwegian pro-football, which already is suffering financial problems, low attendance at matches and alleged match-fixing.
Gunnarsson was sold by Stabæk to Vålerenga for NOK 1 million even though Trondheim club Rosenborg had offered more. At the same time, Stabæk sold an option for teenage player Herman Stengel to Vålerenga at a price of NOK 4 million. Police believe Stabæk, based in suburban Bærum west of Oslo, was trying to avoid making a higher payment to Gunnarsson’s former French club, Nancy, which was entitled to 50 percent of any sales sum for Gunnarsson. Stabæk has claimed the two transactions were not connected, while prosecutors claimed on Wednesday that they think they have a strong case.
The men charged include the chairman of Stabæk Fotball AS, Lars Holter Sørensen; Stabæk’s sports leader Inge André Olsen; a former board member of Stabæk, Tor Q Aaserød; and the former sports director for Vålerenga Fotball of Oslo, Truls Håkonsen.
Vålerenga, meanwhile, is looking for a new head coach after Martin Andresen, who said this week that he would resign at the end of this season. Headhunter Åge-Petter Christiansen is also chairman of Vålerenga and is already fielding proposals for Andresen’s replacement. They include former Vålerenga coach Kjetil Rekdal, Per-Mathis Høgmo of Tromsø and Ronny Deila of Strømsgodset, reports newspaper Aftenposten, but club leaders aren’t ruling out foreign coaches.