“The Organization and Management of Professional Football in Scandinavia”

The Business of Sport – Seminar Series

Room G01 – Clore Management Centre, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1 7HX

Wednesday 14th May 2008 at 6pm
(For directions click here)

“The Organization and Management of Professional Football in Scandinavia”

Given by:

Professor. Hallgeir Gammelsæter, Professor in Social Change, Organization and Management, Molde University College, Norway


The three Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway and Sweden are small in population (around 20 million people) and as such they are commercially in the backyard of European football. To a large extent the same can be said about the sporting success of their clubs and national teams. Despite this, in all the three countries football is the biggest sport both in terms of  the number  of athletes participating and as a spectator sport. Compared to football in the UK, however, football is differently organized and managed.

Historically, football in Scandinavia came to be organized by voluntary non-profit organizations. Hence, football clubs comprise both elite football and youth and grass-root football. Up until recently there have been few proponents of separating the organization of elite football from the organization of amateur and grass-roots football. The predominating idea has been that the thinly populated Scandinavian countries could not produce international players unless their organizations have a wide reach that can secure a rich supply of talent.

In the presentation Professor Gammelsæter will explore the organization of Scandinavian male professional football and some of the tensions that the football organizations must deal with in a new era. Perhaps surprisingly, given the presumption that Scandinavia is still a fairly homogenous region which also characterizes its traditions in sport, there are some marked differences between the countries in organizing the sport. The presentation will therefore outline the paths that the Scandinavian countries have followed in managing their football, and also suggest some explanations for the diverging paths. Questions that will be raised are:

  • What are the similarities and differences at the association level, i.e. the way football is organized at the national level?
  • What is the impact of the two most important interest groups in men’s football; the league associations and the player associations?
  • How are the top professional clubs in the three countries organized, and how can we explain the diversity between them?


  • Gammelsæter, Hallgeir and Jakobsen, Stig-Erik (2008) ‘Models of Organization in Norwegian Professional Soccer’, European Sport Management Quarterly, 8:1, 1 – 25
  • Gammelsæter, H. (forthcoming 2008), The organization of top football in Scandinavia. In Carlsson, B. and Andersson T. (eds.), Football in Scandinavia, Routledge. Can be obtained from the author:
  • Gammelsæter, Hallgeir and Frode Ohr (2002). Kampen uten ball. Om penger, ledelse og identitet i norsk fotball. (The Match Played without Ball. About Money, Management and Identity in Norwegian Football). Oslo: Abstrakt forlag


Hallgeir Gammelsæter is Professor in Social Change, Organization and Management, currently teaching Sport Organization and Management at undergraduate level and Forms of Organization and Management at post-graduate level at Molde University College, Norway. For the past six years Hallgeir’s research has gradually turned to the management of football in Scandinavia, including a research project on the organization of Norwegian clubs from which scientific journal articles are now being published. At present Hallgier is involved in a benchmarking study on Swedish and Norwegian football and in setting up a development program for top managers in Norwegian premier league clubs. In 2002 he published the book “Kampen uten ball” (The Match Played without Ball) with co-author Frode Ohr, focussing on the money, management, and identities in Norwegian professional football.

For further details on this Seminar Series contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Email: or Tel: 020-7631 6763

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