– Will not rule anything out – VG

2021 CHAMPIONS IN 2022: Molde’s match winner Sivert Mannsverk (left) and teammates Ola Brynhildsen, Benjamin Tiedemann, Eirik Ulland Andersen, captain Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Jacob Karlstrøm, Magnus Grødem and Emil Breivik lift the King’s Cup after the final victory against Bodø/Glimt at Ullevaal. Photo: Bjørn S. Delebekk / VG

At the Norwegian Football Association’s next board meeting, it will be decided how the cup will be played next year. An alternative is to drop the entire tournament for the 2023 season.

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Competition director Nils Fisketjønn in the Norwegian Football Association confirms this to VG. But he is also quick to emphasize that it is one of several options being discussed until football president Lise Klaveness and her board in October decide the cup’s fate.

What is certain, however, is that the Norwegian men’s championship for 2022 will end with the last four rounds in 2023, where a final is intended to be at the end of May. The question is what happens to the 2023 edition.

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– The discussions are going on now. We make a recommendation to the board and work on it for several months. We must anchor that with the top clubs, NISO, the NFF’s elite department, supporters and the media. We are in the middle of that phase, says Fisketjønn.

The following scenarios are the most likely:

  1. To start the 2023 cup after the final in May, which will be somewhat later than “normal year” and finish with the final in 2023.
  2. Continue to divide the cup in two, over two calendar years – with the first rounds in 2023 and the conclusion in 2024.
  3. Don’t play the cup at all.

– The reason why it is being considered is the time available and tight schedule. Right now I don’t want to rule anything out. There are many opinions, says Fisketjønn and points out that a significant part is a “backlog” of the corona pandemic, which makes the due date list narrower.

From 2024, there will be even worse space. Then the European Football Association (UEFA) changes the structure of the group games in the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League and increases the number of matches there.

– It takes up another two midweeks. We don’t know what it will look like in 2024, but it has been signaled that the Europa League and Europa Conference League may have their own weeks, without Champions League matches, where these tournaments will shine alone. But we don’t know this for sure yet, says Fisketjønn.

Among the clubs where VG has taken the cup temp, the answers are unanimous:

– Odd believes that the 2023 cup should be carried out. With the final in 2023. We will not resurrect the cup by skipping a year, says general manager Einar Håndlykken.

He does not agree that the term list is too narrow.

– They can do that, if they try hard enough. If it means that the European Cup teams get a tough programme, they must rather prioritize which tournaments they focus on. I would have thought so too if we were there. You only have to look to England. Nor do they get to field their best team in all tournaments, says the manager of one of the two clubs with the most cup championships (12) in Norway.

Rosenborg is the other – and chairman Cecilie Gotaas Johnsen is completely in line with Odd: They want the cup in 2023, and for the tournament to be completed during the calendar year. The same is done by chairman Morten Kokkim in Lillestrøm.

– We want to get back to the rhythm where the cup final ends the season, says Kokkim.

– What do you think about dropping the cup in 2023 being an option?

– I don’t understand that there should be an alternative, replies the Lillestrøm manager.

– Vålerenga believes that the cup should be played in the traditional way, within the calendar year and with the final as the last game of the season. My impression is that most of the elite series clubs share our point of view, so we can hope that will be the result, adds chairman Tuva Ørbeck Sørheim in Vålerenga.

Leif Øverland in the interest organization Norsk Toppfotball, of which the 32 clubs in the Eliteserien and Obosligaen are members, says there are different views about the cup.

– There is great understanding that this is complex. We have a backlog after the pandemic, and I feel that we have a good process of working out two or three alternatives, says Øverland.

– Is it the case that someone wants the 2023 cup not to be played?

– We have no opinion poll related to that. I feel that the clubs see the complexity and are concerned that we look at alternatives, replies the director of Norsk Toppfotball.

The article is in Norwegian

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