Oslo’s once-high-kicking football club Vålerenga (VIF) is in another major financial squeeze, after arbitrators ruled that it must pay a multi-million kroner fee to rival club Stabæk, regarding a disputed player transfer three years ago. “The problem is that we don’t have the money,” says Vålerenga’s general manager Stig Ove Sandnes.
VIF, which has had financial trouble for years and fallen from its former top-league status, was ordered to pay NOK 7.78 million (USD 1.3 million) to Stabæk, to settle an option deal regarding transfers of Veigar Pall Gunnarsson and Herman Stengel from Stabæk to VIF. Newspaper Dagsavisen reported that NOK 2 million was subtracted from the sum, to cover a parallel loan agreement, but VIF now still owes Stabæk nearly NOK 6 million, due in two weeks.
VIF fans have been conducting a major fund-raising campaign, with its wealthy main supporter Tor Olav Trøim pledging to match what they collect. Trøim has long been the right-hand man for Norwegian tycoon John Fredriksen, who has financially supported VIF for decades.
The fund raising was fairly successful, but the money was needed for other club operations. Now, faced with handing it all straight to Stabæk, VIF Chairman Åge Petter Christiansen claims the economic situation for the club will worsen considerably. Now the club, officials fear, may not be able to meet payroll and bankruptcy looms.
VIF already had a budget deficit of NOK 15 million this year despite going through layoffs, pay cuts and other major cost-cuts. Now it’s asked for a meeting with Stabæk, with plans to ask for an extended payment plan.
“We wish all the best for Vålerenga and they’re an important club for Norway,” Stabæk’s chairman Espen Moe told newspaper VG. “But we expect them to pay in accordance with the ruling.” Trøim declined comment on whether he and Fredriksen might offer yet another financial bailout.