Monday, 31 May 2021 | In Focus

With a Danish Man of the Match, Head Coach, Assistant Head Coach plus no fewer than six Danes in the match day squad Denmark certainly noticed Brentford on Saturday. Our man on the spot, Tobias Neigaard, says the Bees success is exciting the media but dividing Danes.  
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With several Danish players and coaches, Brentford has, in recent years, become a bit of a media favourite and a household name in Denmark. However, this has not always been the case. The Championship does not tend to receive much media coverage in Denmark and many teams outside the Premier League are, more or less, unknown to the common football fan in Denmark. You may find the occasional Leeds, Derby, or Forest supporter who follows the Championship, but historically, English teams such as Manchester United and Liverpool have had much larger followings in Denmark, as they are some of the most successful teams in Europe.

Since Brentford has not spent time in the top flight of English football nor had had any significant Cup runs in over half a century, the club does not have a large following in the small Viking-country to the East. However, this has all changed in recent years as a result of the influx of Danish players and coaches and its success in the Championship.

All major Danish sports media now report on Brentford’s results every week, which is very rare for a Championship club. Usually, these articles only report on Brentford’s results and how the Danish players have done the past week. However, this past week leading up to the playoff final has seen a significant increase in the number of articles about Brentford and their Premier League chances. Most of the articles write about Brentford’s brilliant season, the unbelievable prize money, and how the Danish players and coaches have performed throughout the season. Some of these articles include, “The half-Danish club from West London is only one win away from the wealthiest league in the world” and “Brentford is reaching for the final promotion spot and the over £100 million that come with it”.

Naturally, after the final, the Danish sports media went crazy and flooded the internet with articles about Brentford’s success, of course, all with a Danish spin. Some of these articles include “Marcondes sent Brentford to the Premier League”, “Mathias Jensen: I broke down in tears”, and “Frank after the promotion triumph: I am completely drained”. Even the largest news channel in Denmark, Danmarks Radio (DR), the Danish equivalence of BBC, joined in and reported on Brentford’s promotion to the Premier League with several articles. One of these articles is called “Frank swung his magic wand and voila: Seven Danes became Premier League players”. This article talks about Thomas Frank’s tactical approach to the final and how he and the rest of the team overcame last season’s disappointment. DR even had a news feature on the Sunday evening news.  In this feature, they interviewed an English Brentford fan living in Denmark: “It’s one of the craziest things that have ever happened in my life. It’s my dream coming true, and it doesn’t get any bigger than this”, David Gorham told DR after the euphoria of Brentford’s promotion.

In addition to the articles and news feature, the increased media coverage can also be seen in the many Danish podcasts about Brentford, some of which Bees United have previously translated. In the latest Brentford Special from Mediano, Brian Riemer talks about how he wants to inspire the Danes with his work at Brentford. He tells the story of how teachers used to laugh at him for wanting to make football his career and how it ignited something in him and became a motivation to prove that you can do anything you want as long as you work hard.

The attention around the playoff final itself was clearly reflected on the decision to broadcast the game on TV3+ with no less than 30 minutes of pre-match studio. Not only is TV3+ Denmark’s biggest channel for sports events, but 30 minutes of pre-match studio is also more than most games in the Danish Superliga get. TV3+ also brought in some of the most prominent pundits and commentators for the game. Of course, the Championship playoff final is always a big game and has always gotten media coverage in Denmark. Still, this type of coverage for a Championship game has never been seen before. It definitely would not have happened had it not been Brentford in the final.

This increased attention surrounding Brentford and the Play-Off final is also reflected on social media, especially Twitter. On the day of the Play-Off final, Twitter was flooded with Danish football fans showing their support and wishing Brentford good luck. The majority of the tweets were very supportive. Several people said, “Come on you Bees”, and, “I sincerely hope that Brentford takes the final promotion spot. It would be thoroughly deserved”.

However, not all of the tweets were positive, with some fans saying things such as, “Please God, let them lose the final”. These tweets were primarily from fans who support FC Midtjylland’s rivals. They fear that a Brentford promotion to the Premier League may benefit FC Midtjylland because FC Midtjylland, who unfortunately was unable to defend the Danish title, is also owned by Matthew Benham. This fear of theirs is not entirely without reason given that Rasmus Ankersen, co-director of Football at Brentford and chairman at FC Midtjylland, told the local newspaper in Herning that Brentford’s promotion will most definitely affect FC Midtjylland: “It’s going to mean a lot to FC Midtjylland. It opens up many new opportunities when two family clubs occupy the places in the football ecosystem that we now do. Until now, Brentford and FC Midtjylland have been cousins, but that relationship will be more of a big brother / little brother relationship now, which will bring advantages to both clubs”, says Rasmus Ankersen to Herning Folkeblad.

In the same article, Ankersen tells how the promotion has been ‘in the making’ for many years now and that it probably should have happened last year. He also reassures that the strategy will not change because of the promotion. However, he refuses to say how exactly this promotion will benefit FC Midtjylland and how it will bring advantages to both clubs: “I will not comment on specifics. I will, however, say that it will generally open up opportunities for FC Midtjylland to have a Premier League club within the family”. What exactly this will mean, only time will tell, but one thing is certain: the Danish interest in Brentford will continue to grow, and now more than ever, will Brentford be the new darling of Danish media?


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