FC Haka

This post is now also available at Nordic Football News.

EDIT-see my FC Haka Correction regarding the first few paragraphs.

CIMG7652

The previous post was a bit premature, it must be said. Haka still have an appeal, and most people expect them to get their licence, but the whole affair does raise some questions. For instance, why has their budget been passed for Veikkausliiga competition but is apparently not fit for UEFA? Veikkausliiga chairman Jan Walden was asked by Aamulehti whether they’d been playing with a special licence under conditions, and what would happen to that licence now, and his reply was less than confidence-boosting.

“No they haven’t….no comment…I have to go now, bye bye,” said Walden.

Given that the league did indulge in a fair amount of cockswinging towards TamU, Honka and RoPS in the last round of licensing, it would be a bit rum for them to have simply passed Haka ‘with conditions’ without the public naming and shaming given to the others. I would even go so far as to say that it would defeat the entire object of licensing systems (to promote financial responsibility among clubs). But that is speculation, and we’ll see what happens next week.

To be fair, not many people want to say anything worthwhile on the subject. I asked Haka CEO Seppo Laitinen what he thought about it, and he said he “cannot speak about that in English. Maybe next week,” giving the impression that he expects some movement in the appeal, or possibly that his employer will go bankrupt by then. Other Haka sources have pointed fingers at Göran Enckelman (Peter’s Dad) and Markus Juhola, two guys with TPS connections and varying degrees of beef with Haka who served on the UEFA licensing committee. I wouldn’t put too much store by that, but it does show how personal everything is in Finnish football.

The reaction on messageboards and in the media has surprised me a little. There have been stories that the club is on the verge of bankruptcy (denied by Laitinen, in Finnish), but the expectation is that UPM will bail out the club. Haka’s take on this is that the licensing committee has misunderstood the relationship between the newly created holding company, FC Haka Oy, and FC Haka. According to Helsingin Sanomat, Laitinen claims that “the UEFA team licence decision that we have received is clearly based on claims and statements that FC Haka can easily rectify”, so you’d expect this all to be a storm in a teacup.

This is Finland, however, and clubs with multiple title wins go bankrupt very easily indeed. FC Jazz, FinnPa, HIFK and Allianssi are all clubs that have done well in the top flight and subsequently gone bust. So journalists have been reminiscing about the previous bankruptcies, like the time when FC Jazz players were given macaroni casserole instead of a post match meal.

In that article, Sundqvist also expects that UPM will plug the gap, but at some point the forestry sector will surely stop propping up their football teams in Finland. The Finnish paper industry is declining as a proportion of UPM’s business, and my questions to football-interested UPM employees were redirected to ‘the local department’ – Finland is seen as an accounting hub as much as a pulp producer these days, and the big factories, and plans for expansion, are abroad. It will be interesting to see if UPM have the budget or inclination to help out what must surely have been one of their best marketing tools, down the years.

Valkeakoski bright lights

That’s what Haka are, really: a marketing tool. A step up from a factory works side, but they have represented UPM in a European Cup Quarter final against Juventus, when by all accounts (you can take it as read that I haven’t spoken to Michel Platini or his team-mates on this one, and that ex-Haka players exaggerate after a beer or two) they were unlucky to go out. The paper mill is in the corner of the ground, the stadium is called ‘factory pitch’, the sponsors are all aimed at the management of the company and most of the fans work directly or indirectly for the paper mill.

The VIP bus I saw on Monday night was run by Rauman Stevedoring, a west coast shipping company that wants to impress and get the contracts to distribute paper products all over the world, and around the ground hoardings include those from Tilbury docks, Finnlines, VR Cargo and other freight companies. So we can say that in the Finnish mindset they are inextricably linked with the paper industry, just like MyPa.

This has some odd effects. Finnish economic policy has, on occasion, been run to suit the paper industry. Devaluations were implemented in part to ensure that paper products remained competitive on the world market, despite the pain this caused people who had to buy things from abroad. The imperative to keep production running meant that forest industry unions were among the strongest in Finland, always opting out of the economy-wide wage settlements and getting themselves a much better deal. This caused a slightly British ‘tut tut’ attitude towards those unions and that industry, and there is some shadenfreude mixed in now that a small town club run by the paper barons is getting it’s comeuppance.

I don’t share this at all. I think Haka are a great club, that they have a brilliant ground, and that there is a place for that kind of community club in Veikkausliiga. They need to concentrate on producing youngsters, ‘owning’ their town and making a profit on player trading, something like what Jaro aim to do, but they should be able to hold things together. Veikkausliiga is not a big money league, and there are lots of towns of a similar size to Valkeakoski that have competed in much more prestigious leagues than this. The question is whether Haka (and probably MyPa too, not that there are indications of problems there) can handle the transition from being aristocrats of the Finnish game competing in ‘Finland’s classico’ (Haka vs HJK) to being a tightly run club counting the pennies and hoping for success. I hope they haven’t overstretched themselves.

Advertisements

11 Responses

  1. Fascinating article. Excellent insight into the history of the Finnish league and current developments. Very glad I read this. Keep up the good work!

  2. Also, that picture reminds me of the (old) Gay Meadow, looking from the Riverside. Luckily, we had a school instead of a paper mill overlooking the pitch.

  3. Thanks, although I fear I may have placed too much emphasis on what Aamulehti was saying. they’ve gone further out on a limb than anyone else, but, in theory at least, should have better contacts inside Haka than anyone else. The next week or two will be interesting.

    I should also clarify the opening: Walden was answering two separate questions. The first, about the licence, was a clear ‘no’, Haka’s league licence is unconditional. the UEFA licence is a separate process and has to cover funding until 2009, a higher standard than that met by the League committee. The second question was ‘what’s haka’s situation now’, and Walden can’t comment on that as the UEFA licensing process is run by Palloliitto and Pekka Hämäläinen is the guy to ask about it.

  4. […] Haka correction Posted on 10 May, 2008 by Egan It seems my introduction for the FC Haka piece relied rather too heavily on Aamulehti, the local Tampere newspaper. They started the week with an […]

  5. With much complement and support tp your football club and the enthire managements,players and the suppoorters in general.
    I play first division club side in my country.i look forward to get a foreign club that might need my services to join and justify myself.you should use this e-mail address when replying my letter.
    alhassan452002@yahoo.co.uk
    I am utility player.i played 10,11 and 3 position,i am seriously a waiting any club that may need my services by sending me a proper invitation letter to come and justify myself with appropriate club.please try as much as possible to invite me.Hoping to hear from you as soon as possible.
    Thank you.
    Yours faithfully
    Kwadwo Ofori.
    P.O.BOX,TA,197.
    OLD TAFO,KUMASI.
    GHANA.

  6. complement of the season to the management, supporter club,board of director and to all foot ball lover of fc haka finland. HAPPY NEW YEAR.

    THE MANAGIN DIRECTOR FC HAKA.
    my name is john adejumo am sixteen years old i play for division one feeders team in my country nigeria,am also one of your team fans.my position of playin is 10and 4 am a mid fielder both footer,i love fc haka so much and the achievement you have achieve, it be an great opportunity for me to part of the player that will take fc haka to the sky.i will be very happy, if you give me an letter of invitation and opportunity to come for a tryer in fc haka, i will be very glad to hear fast reply from the board,thank for your co-peration.
    YOUR FAITHFULLY
    JOHN ADEJUMO
    E-MAIL ADDRESS glotojhon4real@yahoo.com
    TEL-+2348028740334

  7. if you have vacancies for players in your team contact me via
    emmanuelfigo2003@yahoo.com

    you will not regret this

  8. DEAR MANAGER, COACH, TECHNICAL ADVISER, MY NAME IS UCHECHUKWU Nwaemeh DANILE FROM NIGERIA. I AM 18YEARS OLD AND I PLAY FOR UNDER 15, 17 AND IN JUNIOR TEAM. I AM A VERY TELENTED, FOCUSSED AND SKILLFULL PLAYER WITH GREAT POTENTIALS. I WOULD LIKE TO PLAY IN YOUR YOUTH FOOTBALL ACADEMY TEAM AND I PROMISE TO DO MY BEST IN THE UPLIFTING OF YOUR ESTEEMED FOOTBALL CLUB. I BELIVE THAT MY TRIALS WILL DEFINITELY CONVINCE YOU. I WAS BORN A FOOTBALLER AND WAS TRAINED AS A ULTILITE PLAYER AND I WOULD LOVE IF YOU GIVE ME THE CHANCE/OPPORTUNITY TO PROOVE MYSELF TO YOU AND THE CLUB. I AM A GOOD FOOTBALLER AND I WANT TO TAKE MY FOOTBALL CARRIER TO THE NEXT LEVEL. I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO JOIN YOUR YOUTH FOOTBALL ACADEMY AS I WANT TO MAKE NIGERIANS PROUD OF ME. PLEASE KINDLY BRIEF ME ON HOW I CAN JOIN YOUR YOUTH FOOTBALL ACADEMY AS I PROMISE TO UPLIFT THE CLUB TO A GREATER HEIGHT. ATTACHED IS MY FOOTBALL CV FOR YOU TO GO THROUGH. I DO HOPE TO READ/HEAR FROM YOU COACH/MANAGER. THANK YOU. YOURS FAITHFULLY THIS MY PHONE NUMBER +2348080460051 OR E-MAIL CHIBEST_01@YAHOO.COM

  9. iM A FOOTBALL PLAYER LOOKING FOR A TEAM TO PLAY IN THEIR FEEDERS IF THERES ANY VACANCY PLEASE LET ME KNOW.

  10. Hi im a footballer from Nigeria just want you to give me an opportunity to play in finland.Im within the age of 15.

  11. Hey I will like to partner with your reputable club on the basis of scouting for your club here in Nigeria. Please do get back to me on asap.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: