Scandinavian Royal League – What was it, and why did it fail?

Outside of the UEFA competitions, there have been various odd European football tournaments over the years.

Do you remember the Texaco Cup, which saw teams from England, Ireland and Scotland competing against one another? What about the Anglo-Italian Cup or the Anglo-Saxon Cup? Do they ring a bell? The answer is probably no because such offshoot tournaments tend to be short-lived and soon forgotten. One such football tournament was the Scandinavian Royal League. Read on to find out what it was and why it failed.

What was the Scandinavian Royal League?

The Scandinavian Royal League was an annual football club tournament for teams of the three Scandinavian monarchies: Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The best-placed teams in the football leagues of those countries participated in the contest over the Royal League’s three seasons. The tournament held its first match in November 2004.

What was the format of the tournament?

Twelve teams took part in the Royal League: four from each of the competing Scandinavian countries. Qualifications were based on the teams’ domestic positions from the previous season, and they were divided into three groups.

In the league’s first season, the two top teams from the first tournament progressed to a second group phase. The two group winners then played each other in the final. In the second and third seasons, the second group phase was replaced with a knockout contest. So, the two best third-placed teams joined the first and second-placed sides.

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Why did the Scandinavian Royal League fail?

The Royal League’s demise occurred due to several reasons. Some coaches and managers were worried about the extra amount of games the teams had to play each year because more matches could mean more injuries.

Playing winter games also worried some due to the crippling cold conditions. Fans may have opted to stay home, watching TV or playing games online (like at this online casino in Denmark). Indeed, both Sweden and Norway already played their domestic games during the summer so that they could avoid the harsh wintertime conditions.

Additionally, teams from all three countries rarely played their best sides in the contest. That, coupled with the harsh winter climate, meant fans had a lack of interest in attending Royal League matches. Indeed, the very first match had very poor attendance.

The highest attendance for any Royal League match was quite respectable: over 21,000 fans turned up for one of the Copenhagen derbies. But when Brann played Odense, only 272 people attended the game. Things got even worse when Odense played Halmstads. Only 86 people were present! The second season wasn’t any better. One match saw a mere 63 fans attend.

The Scandinavian Royal League also struggled to generate enough revenue from sponsors to keep it going. Trying to secure TV rights for the three countries was problematic too. So, in some ways, it’s incredible that the Royal League lasted for even three seasons, as it seems to have been doomed from the start.

Although there were plans for a 2007/2008 season, it was cancelled on financial grounds. There was still hope at the time that the tournament would be resurrected the following season, but in October 2008, it was announced that the Royal League would cease.

What were the results of each season’s finals?

Nation-wise, Denmark won all three seasons of the Scandinavian Royal League. In the 2004/2005 season, Denmark’s Copenhagen faced Sweden’s Göteborg. When the final whistle sounded, both teams had scored one goal, so the game went to a penalty shootout. Copenhagen narrowly won, scoring 11 penalty goals against Göteborg’s 10. The match took place at Ullevi in Gothenburg, Sweden on 26th May 2005.

The 2005/2006 season final was held at Parken in Copenhagen, Denmark on 6th April 2006. Copenhagen once again made it to the final. But this time the team faced Norway’s Lillestrøm. Copenhagen won 1-0

2006/2007 was the last season of the Royal League. The season’s final took place at Brøndby Stadion in Brøndby, Denmark on 15th March 2007. This time, Copenhagen took on the home-playing team Brøndby, so a Danish victory was already guaranteed. Brøndby were crowned champions after winning the match 1-0.

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