JJK win promotion to Veikkausliiga

Jyväskylä in Central Finland is a town of about 85 000 people and until today it has held a record they should not be proud of: for a long time Jyväskylä has been the biggest town in Finland that has never had a football club in Veikkausliiga, the top flight of Finnish football.

In Jyväskylä, football has always been hidden in the shadow of ice hockey. During the last two campaigns, however, things have been better for JJK. It was only in 2006 that they won promotion to Ykkönen from the third tier of Finnish football. Despite of that, 2007 saw the Jyväskylä team fight for promotion to Veikkausliiga and they sometimes got crowds of over 4000. This year they picked up where they left off and had decent crowds, and rumours are saying that today’s game against PS Kemi was played in front of almost 5000 people.

PS Kemi had nothing to win or lose before the game, but they still managed to cause some trouble as Denis Santos converted a penalty in the 35th minute to cancel out the lead Mika Lahtinen secured the hosts in the 18th minute.

JJK, unwilling to settle for anything but a win, eventually came out the victors. Not surprisingly it was Wusu Babatunde who scored the winner, netting his 23rd goal of the season. The former TPS player has attracted interest from some Veikkausliiga teams, but the promotion could make the Nigerian stay.

In the end, JJK wouldn’t even have needed to win. The only other team with a possibility to snatch straight promotion was Viikingit, who succumubed to a 4-1 loss against Jippo. JJK still did a professional job and ended their season in style, while Viikingit will face either IFK Mariehamn or KuPS in the promotion play-offs.

There are a couple of issues that won’t be solved before JJK kick off their first Veikkausliiga team in the spring.To start with, JJK will join the lengthy list of clubs that have to negotiate with the town in order to improve the stadium. Their venue, Harjun stadion does not quite live up to Veikkausliiga standards. It is only natural, as JJK have only recently been able to mount a serious promotion challenge after playing in Kakkonen for seven years.

Secondly, they will have to find a way to attract the crowds. The first few games are likely to make people move in numbers, but their first Veikkausliiga season won’t probably be easy. How to keep the people interested if the team is playing to avoid relegation or achieve a mid-table finish?

Having said that, JJK’s promotion will hopefully be an upheaval to the whole football community in Jyväskylä. A better team means more people and if everything goes right, more junior players. JJK’s promotion could be a route to increasing the popularity of football in Central Finland.


7 Responses

  1. sounds good:)

  2. They attracted a bigger crowd than Jyp could ever hope to get today. If people in Jyväskylä know their arses from their elbows, there is the potential for a very good football club there.

    but that’s a very big ‘if’.

  3. “They attracted a bigger crowd than Jyp could ever hope to get today.”

    That’s quite unsurprising, given that the local hockey venue can’t accommodate more than 4200.

    Interesting times. When I was still living in Central Finland, which was until 2003, I could have not seriously believed that JJK would ever get promoted – and now it finally happened. I am happy, but confused.

    I may have mentioned it earlier, but Wusu in the first place came to Finland through some exchange project. He was working in the kindergarten of Konnevesi (a semi-Savonian village of some 3000 inhabitants, about an hour’s drive from Jyväskylä), started to play with a local puulaaki team and was soon spotted by the club of the neighbouring Laukaa. From there he moved to Turku and from Turku back to Central Finland.

  4. Yeah, I left that bit out for dramatic emphasis. I couldn’t fight through my hangover to the Keskisuomalainen piece where some Jyp manager was pouring cold water on JJK’s desire to build a new ground at Hippos, but it seems like a fight for resources will begin pretty soon.

  5. Do you mean this piece?


    If so, then do bear in mind that JyPK refers to the women’s football club (which is also fighting for promotion to the top tier) not the hockey team. Jyp have already finished their refurbishment so I can’t really see how the plan for a new football stadium could have any negative impact on them.

  6. I think you are probably right, but I have other things to drink about right now.

  7. Right, derby day celebrations are over now so i can answer properly. Yes, that’s the article I saw and by golly I look silly now. Apologies to the footballing women of Jyväskylä.

    The thing that looked silly to me was the minimum capacity required. I mean clubs will have enough seats to fit in the number of people who want to pay, surely? Why make them pay out all this money for no reason (and look at Veikkausliiga crowds – it is for no reason) , if not to privilege the clubs that already have stadia that fit the criteria?

    JJK are a really special case here. They have the potential to draw that many people on a regular basis, and so they will do their damndest to have a ground fit to house them. It makes sense for them. If it doesn’t make sense for another club (Viikingit, say), then why should they have to do it?

    Well-run clubs from decent sized towns with proper football grounds are dominating Finnish football right now, and that’s the way it should be.

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