The Technical Director of F.C. Copenhagen shares his experiences during the crisis

The Technical Director of F.C. Copenhagen shares his experiences on the key moments since the sports enforced shutdown in Denmark.

Johan Lange was joined by Mike Rigg of Burnley FC and members of the ASD from Europe, Australia, the US and the UK. The conversation concerned three four key moments:

  • Lockdown in Istanbul
  • Transitions in training
  • Negotiating new player wage terms
  • Returning to football

On the 11th March Liverpool FC hosted Atletico infront of 52,000 supporters at Anfield. On the same day, Mette Frederiksen, the Danish PM announced a shut-down of schools, non-essential private business and much of the public services – making Denmark the second European country to lockdown.

Johan explains in detail the challenges this presented for the team, who were preparing for their Round 16 game in the UEFC Europa League against İstanbul Başakşehir F.K. in Turkey on the 12th March.

Denmark acted quickly to lockdown the country. The team arrived back in Copenhagen airport on Friday 13th March, and held what was their last the full-team meeting.

The next phase of the conversation concerned Johan and his team supporting the players through this initial transition. According to the Danish government guidelines people were allowed to work from home. Therefore arrangements were made to assess the player geographic proximity so that small training groups could be coordinated.

Players continued to train, maintaining strict social distancing in local parks. Unlike in England, there was no challenge to this practice. F.C. Copenhagen had communicated their plans and intentions with all stakeholders throughout, including their supporters.

The weather in Copenhagen has been favourable. This meant an increase in the number of people exercising in parks and open spaces, so after some time, plans were adjusted for players to return their work in the open space within the clubs training ground facilities.

Returning to the training ground, involves players driving up to the training pitch, training in small groups, being fed on the side of the pitch, getting changed and departing – all without entering the building. This was deemed safer than the public open spaces and allowed for the strict maintenance of social distancing measures within the small group sessions.

The return of training and football is one of the main topic of debates right now. Undoubtedly, this is about hope and the love of the game, as much as it is about securing the future sustainability of football clubs. Members from Germany, the US, Australia and UK shared their experiences and updated on their current situation.

The discussion moved on and Johan outlined the clubs financial decision-making. One key factor in this process was the strength in relationships between staff within all departments across the club. He highlighted that the players wanted to support their colleagues in the club, many of whom are their friends.

Finally, the conversation turned to the return to football. How it is likely that we will return with football being watched behind closed doors (possibly watched by fans in drive-ins cinemas), but a more pressing question surrounded the short-term – when will it be governed to be safe to return to ‘contact’ football training.

The ASD aims to support sporting directors in professional football. These conversations allow members to connect, share practice, develop ideas and innovate. The full conversation is available to ASD members. We are thankful to Johan Lange and Mike Rigg for a lively and informative conversation.

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