Football in the Faroe Islands is similar to football everywhere else in some senses. Those who have he privilege to watch the English premiership will follow that but few will look closer to home to see the product that is on their doorsteps.
Lets contrast the Faroe Islands with the Republic Of Ireland, the home of Faroes manager Brian Kerr. Football in Ireland is massive and the national team are very strong opponents under the guidance of Giovanni Trappatoni. Yet the domestic league in Ireland is suffering as many prefer to watch what`s happening across the channel in England. It`s estimated that over 70 % of the Irish soccer public have no interest in the League of Ireland, which has produced teams that are coming ever more closer to a European berth.
This is a similar story to what is happening in the Faroes although it is still a shame that many will not follow their own domestic brand of football. It is also staggering how two countries where domestic football is not strong have different fortunes on the national scene. Ireland are regarded as a dangerous outfit while the Faroes are minnows and have been for a long time. To some extent this is inevitable given the population difference, but the common problems for domestic football are similar in Ireland and most Nordic countries, not just the Faroes.
The Faroes founded their own Premier League, now known as Vodafonedeildin, in 1942. The league boasts ten clubs and operates off a system whereby two teams are relegated and promoted every season.
Lets have a closer look at the teams that compete in this league and face the endless task of trying to woo bigger crowds away from watching English football on their armchairs and into their stadiums.
Ahead of the new season lets look at the teams that will compete in the top flight in order of where they finished during 2009.
HB Torshavn are one of the oldest and most successful teams in the league. Hailing from the capital , HB were founded in 1904 and have since won 20 league titles,the latest been in 2009 and is a record in the Nordic land.
EB Streymur finished second last year and earned a Europa League qualifying spot. They have only won one league title to date and that came in 2008. The side from Streymes will be hoping to boost their European form after going down 5-0 to Apoel Nicosia and 4-0 to Manchester City in the past two seasons.
Vikingur also qualified for the Europa League after finishing in 3rd. Vikingur is a result of a merger between GÌ Gota and Leirvik Ìf in 2008 and the club won the Faroe Islands cup last time out. Both clubs existed for decades prior to merging.
NSI Runavik finished fourth last season and are the final entrants to the Europa League from the Faroes. Runavik are not a successful side but to boast a credible cup pedigree which adds to their sole league success, which came in 2007. Romanian Pauli Poulsen currently manages the side who have won two Faroese Cups and taken part in four other finals.
B68 Toftir are the yo yo club of Faroese football. Having been promoted in 1980 the club went on to win three league titles before relegation came back to haunt them in 2004. A year later they bounced straight back by winning the first division , but they struggled through the 2006 season in the top flight and found themselves relegated yet again, only to return in 2007, after winning the first division again. Toftir will be hoping to climb the table further this year after recent 6th and 5th place finishes.The club have a European pedigree having competed in eight matches however that pedigree doesn’t boast any positive results.
AB Argir are fresh off their first season in the top flight .They will be delighted having managed to stay up, after originally earning promotion as the second place team in the first division in 2008. Argir boast arguably the best fans in the league and this is renowned throughout the Islands. Tòràlvur Stenberg is regarded as the saviour of AB. As chairman he took the club from the third division to the premier division in 2006. Sadly he did not see his team play in the top flight as he lost a long battle with cancer. His sons ,Jonas and Heoin, both represent AB at present.
ÌF Fuglafjordur finished 7th last season and will be looking to consolidate their position as a top flight club in 2010. Fuglafjordur will be hoping to pull away from the threat of relegation which seems to constantly hover over the club. Rògvi Jacobsen is the bright light of the club which was founded in 1946.Jacobsen joined the club in 2009 and is widely regarded as one of the players ever to have played for the Faroes. He has over fifty caps and is the Faroes all time top scorer with ten goals. Fuglafjordur fans will be hoping he can make a stronger impact this year .
B36 Torshavn are the other team from the capital. They have a successful history but narrowly avoided relegation in 2009. The nine time champions will be hoping the talent emerging from their impressive academy will propel them higher up the table this time around .Clashes with arch rivals HB are bound to excite and manager Sigfridur Clementsen will be aiming to get his side back into Europe where they have advanced beyond the first round in two recent seasons, 2005 and 2006 by beating both Birkikara FC (Malta) and ÌBV Vestmannaeyar (Iceland).
FC Suouroy return to the top flight as champions after winning the first division. Based in Vagur the club once known as VB/Sumba has adopted a new name for the future. Based on the most southern island of the state manager Jon Pauli Olsen will be hoping he can keep the refurbished club afloat.
B71 Sandoy finished as runners up in 1.Deild last year and are no strangers to the top flight. Sandoy have won the first division four times since their inception in 1970 but their greatest feat was winning the Premier League in 1989. The club also boasts one cup success which came in 1993. The aim for the club this time will be to consolidate their position in the premier league as they have been up and down the divisions in recent years.
It is hard to look by another title victory for HB. However B36 should make their way back towards the top this year and this will hopefully lead to an exciting title race. Nonetheless i have no doubt that HB will be the team to beat.