From Postenligaen to Grundigligaen
Norwegian handball is off to an exciting start this season with new sponsor, name, and TV deal
Norwegian American Weekly
Norges Håndballforbund and Norsk Topphåndball have partnered up with German home-electronics company Grundig for a three-year sponsorship agreement with Norway’s premier handball leagues. As a result, the name of the league is changing from Postenligaen to Grundigligaen—at least for the next three years.
“We are happy to have reached an agreement with a partner that has such high ambitions for the sport,” commented Erik Langerud, the General Secretary for Norges Håndballforbund.
The Norwegian handball organizations hope that this partnership will boost spectator statistics and the overall popularity of the sport in Norway. Although the women’s national team has a fantastic record, the sport receives very little support and low attendance rates. With an optimistic outlook, Norges Håndballforbund hopes to see a 70% increase in match attendance over the next three years. This season also marks a new TV-agreement with TV 2, which aims to increase interest in handball.
Langerud further believes that Grundig’s sponsorship will drastically improve the quality of Norwegian handball.
“In six years, in 2020, we will hold the European Handball Championships for both women and men here at home. We have that in the back of our head as we hope to make Grundigligaen into an attractive arena where we can develop the next generation’s handball stars. This collaboration in many ways marks a new era for Norwegian premier handball,” states Langerud.
He continues by explaining Grundig’s role: “How attractive a spectator sport is boils down to two things. The intensity and quality of the sport itself, and whether it succeeds in involving the audience in the stands. This sponsorship will help us to enhance the former and improve the latter.”
Of course, there is also something in it for Grundig—the company is looking forward to reaching Norwegian customers. Grundig chairman Hakan Bulgurlu notes that Norwegians tend to be tech-savvy, providing a good market for their home entertainment goods. “If Norwegian customers like our products, we know that they are good enough. We agree with NHF and Norsk Topphåndball that we want to reach a larger audience. The agreement sets us up to collaborate on this,” says Bulgurlu.
The 24 teams of the men’s and women’s 2014 Grundigligaen met at Ullevaal Stadium at the end of August, and were happy to hear of their new sponsor and TV-agreement.
The women’s premier league kicked off the new season on Wednesday, September 3, with the second round beginning a week later on September 10. The 12 teams of the league admitted that they expect Larvik to dominate yet again this year, leaving the remaining teams to fight for silver and bronze. Although that may seem to be a defeatist attitude, Larvik does indeed deserve the recognition. This team has taken the gold 16 years out of the 24 total years of the league’s existence. Last year, Larvik won with 43 points, Byåsen Elite came in second with 32, and Tertnes in third with 30. The two teams promoted to Grundigligaen this year for their premier league debuts, HK Halden and Skrim Kongsberg, certainly have a challenge ahead of them!
As of September 11, Oppsal is in the lead with two wins and four points; however, not all teams (including the powerful Larvik) have two games on the board yet.
Wednesday, September 10, marked the beginning of the men’s league. They predict the season to be a close fight for gold between Elverum and Haslum, but argue that Stord, Bækkelaget, and ØIF Arendal also have a chance for victory. Last year’s results explain the challenge between Elverum and Haslum: Haslum HK in first with 36 points, Elverum in second with 35, and Bækkelaget Håndball Elite in third with 27. The new teams joining the men’s Grundigligaen are Halden Topphåndball and Lillestrøm Topphåndball.
It’s hard to know how the season will turn out just yet, but we do know that Grundig and the Norwegian handball leadership are ready to bring handball into the spotlight.
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 19, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.