Champions League Dreams Under Threat As Danish Lockout Looms
A labor dispute between the Danish League and the country's professional players "leaves FC Copenhagen facing the prospect of taking on the might" of Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in a Champions League qualifier with a squad of youth team players, according to Philip O'Connor of REUTERS. If the league cannot agree on a new collective bargaining agreement by midnight on Thursday, "players who are union members will be locked out" from Tuesday. Aalborg player Patrick Kristensen said, "No one wants to play football more than us, that goes without saying. But all players stand together because our collective bargaining agreement is so important." With huge financial benefits for clubs qualifying for the group stages of the Champions League, FC Copenhagen and Danish league champions Aalborg "are anxiously awaiting the results of negotiations to see which players will be available." Kristensen said, "Missing the Champions League is a situation no one wants to be in but we have to look at the broader picture." The union "wants any new agreement to limit the amount of time spent training and playing matches, as well as improved conditions for part-time players in the lower divisions." The Danish Football Association (DBU) said that "in the event of a strike or lockout, it will back the Danish League and that players locked out by the clubs will not be considered for selection to the national team" (REUTERS, 8/13).