The boys from the Western part of CPH and … Global Football Holdings

“The sun rises and the sun sets, but Broendby IF is here tomorrow too”. Thus stated the legendary mayor Kjeld Rasmussen, when the heart club at the Western part of CPH was very close to financial collapse at the beginning of 1990 in connection with the club’s failed attempt to take over the Danish “Interbank”. A debt of almost DKK 400 million seemed almost unmanageable, but a long-term rescue plan with the “town king” Rasmussen at the helm was launched and a few years later Broendby IF was once again Denmark’s supremely strongest football club, both sportingly and financially.

Broendbyernes IF – A cultural and social community with strong values

The Social Democrat Kjeld Rasmussen was elected mayor of Broendby Municipality in 1966, but already two years earlier the charismatic lawyer was one of the initiators of – and the first chairman of – the football club Broendbyerne IF. The visionary Rasmussen, who held the post of mayor for 39 years until 2005, together with the doctor Per Bjerregaard, who in 1974 became chairman of the club, was largely the driving force behind the “adventure” at the Western part of CPH. Both Rasmussen and Bjerregaard stressed that Broendbyernes IF should be a strong community of cultural values for children, young people and families in a municipality with many social and economic challenges. The community with strong values should also include the many refugees and immigrants who in these years chose to settle in non-profit housing in Broendbyoester, Broendbyvester or Broendby Strand. The community with strong values was anchored in the club’s motto: “Supra Societatem Nemo” – No one above the community. The club’s biggest and most important quality was – and still is today – volunteers who provide selfless and loyal efforts for the community. It is also this quality that is essential for more than 500 volunteers who contribute to solving large and small tasks in connection with the Super League team’s home matches. In my opinion, there are no other clubs in Danish football that have so many and so faithful coaches and volunteers over three, four or five decades.

The 1990s: Broendby IF’s golden years

Broendby IF with Per Bjerregaard as chairman moved from 1974 to 1982 from Denmark’s 4th best League to the best League – 1st division – with only 17-year-old Michael Laudrup in the team. And just 3 years later, the club won its first Danish Championship (DC). In the 1980s it was very much Broendby IF, which set the standard for Danish club football. In 1987, the club was listed on the stock exchange as a limited company and introduced full-time professional players and began selling players abroad. Broendby IF also achieved a number of remarkable results internationally, including was the club in 1991 after a drama against A.S. Roma in the semi-finals just seconds away from a final place in the UEFA Cup. It was achievements like this that meant that Brøndby IF ranked among Europe’s 20 best clubs in the 1990s: a position that no other Danish club has since achieved. Also in the Super League, which was introduced in 1991, Broendby IF was clearly the most knowledgeable club until 2006, when the sporting down trip began. In the first 15 Super League seasons, Broendby IF won no fewer than 6 gold, 7 silver and 2 DC bronze medals.  On the other hand, in the past 15 seasons it has “only” been a total of 7 DC medals: One gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze medals, while FC Copenhagen has won 14 DC medals (8 gold, 5 silver and one bronze medal) and FCM 10 DC medals (3 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze medals) in the same period.

Broendby Stadium – Denmark’s strongest home ground

Broendby IF’s sporting success – both nationally and internationally – throughout the 1990s also meant a modernization and expansion of Brøndby Stadium. The developer was Brøndby Municipality, but in 1998 the club bought the stadium from Brøndby Municipality for a “modest” DDK 23.5 million. Brøndby Stadium is also today, with a spectator capacity of 26,000, one of Denmark’s absolute best home grounds.

The fight against the “Team of CPH” and the Woolly Jutlanders

For the past 15 years, however, Brøndby IF – both sportingly and financially – has been on a rollercoaster ride of dimensions. A rollercoaster ride that has really hurt self-understanding and emotions, both at the Western part of CPH and with the many BIF fans all over Denmark, who have followed the club since the “golden” years from the mid-1980s to the mid-00s. Both FC Midtjylland (FCM) and not least FC Copenhagen (FCK) have overtaken the club from the Western part of CPH with different strategies and financial investments, which have been significantly larger than Broendby IF. The number of CEO’s, sports managers, head coaches and “main shareholders” in Broendby IF’s professional department has been high and the quality often extremely fluctuating. But most importantly, it has been more than difficult to spot the club’s strategy, both on and off the pitch. Both sportingly and financially, the club has been on a disaster course several times and restructuring of the club’s share structure as well as countless share issues have been necessary for the club’s survival. It was also with mixed feelings, both in the “mother club” and among the club’s various fan factions, that the businessman and billionaire Jan Bech Andersen was welcomed in 2013 as the main shareholder and later as chairman of the board in Broendby IF.

GFH – huge capital across countries, clubs and sports

All Broendby supporters had equally mixed feelings when Global Football Holdings (GFH) took over the role of main shareholder and thus new owner of Brøndby IF A/S in autumn 2022. GFH is a global capital fund with 14 owners – of which 4 wish to be “anonymous” – which invests in both European football clubs and clubs within sports and brands such as basketball, American football and Formula 1. Currently, GFH is main shareholder in 7 different football clubs, of which Crystal Palace (UK) from the Premier League and Augsburg (Germany) from the Bundesliga are the highest ranked clubs. Global Football Holdings is – like the majority of listed companies in the U.S. – registered as a company in the U.S. state of Delaware, where no VAT is payable and where income tax is minimal. The primary purpose of GFH’s investment in Broendby IF – initially close to DKK 220 million – is of course to make money. However, this will only happen if Broendby IF in the coming years achieves good sporting results in the form of titles and not least participation in European club tournaments. In addition, the sale of top players as well as the development of talent with high international potential will be important “tools” in relation to financial returns for GFH’s owners.

“Clash” between culture vs. capital

There have been very mixed reactions and great uncertainty associated with Global Football Holdings’ purchase of the majority share in Broendby IF. Some of the club’s fan factions, commercial partners and smaller shareholders have seen the many millions of DKK and ambitious goals from GFH and Jan Beck Andersen as the club’s (only) opportunity to get back to the absolute top of Danish club football.

Other fan factions – The Alpha group, which for a number of years has created a unique atmosphere on the South Side – has met GFH with great skepticism and demanded a declaration from GFH about “loyalty” to Broendby IF’s “original” culture and values. Despite several dialogue meetings, it is currently failed to reach an “agreement of values” between Brøndby IF’s owner(s) and fans. The “clash” between culture and capital is far from unique for both Danish and international club football in these years. Broendby IF is also here tomorrow too – but undoubtedly in a different version than the former mayor Kjeld Rasmussen had imagined and probably also dreamed of.