That’s why the Scandinavians are turning their backs on the Handball Bundesliga
Kolstad, Ålborg: Nobody is making themselves more unpopular in the German handball scene than these clubs from Norway and Denmark. In order to poach the Scandinavian stars of the Bundesliga, they have offers on display that nobody can resist – top salaries at the local level, away trips as simple day trips with overnight stays in your own bed and, unbeatably, a life at home. Hygge meets high performance.
On Monday, Handball-Kiel was startled by the news that the best player of the German champions would leave THW: the Danish goalkeeper Nicholas Landin joins Ålborg Håndbold for four years from 1 July 2023. Equipped with a contract in Kiel until mid-2025, the 33-year-old world handball player uses an exit clause that allows him to return home for family reasons. The THW loses its life insurance, the Bundesliga an attraction. And not for the first time in the last few months.
Kiel was caught off guard. Just like the northern rival from Flensburg, who will have to give up Gøran Søgard (Kolstad) and probably Simon Hald (Ålborg) in 15 months. Sander Sagosen from Kiel, Magnus Rød from Flensburg and Magnus Gullerud from Magdeburg had already announced their departure to Kolstad in the summer of 2023.
Landin, 33, argues that he wants to “get closer to his relatives”. Especially in times of the pandemic, he felt the value of the family. Apparently the Corona period made many players ponder – is the sporting value of the Bundesliga worth this renunciation? Rød is only 24 years old, he pointed out that he could extend his career considerably without the stress of a top German team. At Sagosen, between the European Championships in early 2021 and the Olympic Games in mid-2022, you could see how his level dropped – he played weakly in the Bundesliga bone mill.
In Kolstad, a nationwide chain of supermarkets provides the necessary crowns. Ålborg are kitting out two handball-loving multi-millionaires who are much more than patrons and have already lured Aron Palmarsson and Mikkel Hansen to North Jutland.
Nevertheless, the Bundesliga retains its appeal. Full halls, constant competition, local hero status: most young Scandinavians take the local elite class as their first step abroad – see Magnus Saugstrup (Magdeburg) and soon Mathias Gidsel (Berlin). But the top clubs will have to get used to losing their best-aged players to where handball is similarly lucrative but less strenuous. The only remedy is a rigorous downsizing of the league plus a play-off system. This proposal does not have a majority. Everything else is in the hands of the European and international association. There is a lack of willingness to reduce for financial reasons. In this respect, one does not have to be a prophet to say that the coveted victory in the Champions League for German clubs is becoming ever more distant.