On May 15, 2023, Johan Lindvall assumed the role of Secretary General for the Swedish Professional Football Leagues. He describes an intense and educational year, and as he looks ahead, he does so with optimism for the future of elite football in Sweden.
“We have developed a new strategy to guide us forward. According to the strategy, we will continue to grow commercially while also making sporting strides and more clearly challenge clubs from other leagues in the European tournaments.”

When Johan talks about his first year, it is impossible not to mention the dual aspects of last season. On one hand, record attendance, a festive atmosphere, and sporting drama. On the other hand, an escalating trend of disturbances inside the arenas.

“I had barely settled into the office before I found myself in TV studios talking about disturbances and interrupted matches. Of course, I understand this, but at the same time, there was frustration that all the focus was on that when elite football also represents so much positive. We set attendance records for Allsvenskan and Superettan, and our clubs are doing fantastic work to develop both on and off the field. In hindsight, I feel that the debate about disturbances, with full respect for the issue, took up far too much space ahead of this season.”

Johan goes on to talk about the measures taken to address the issue of disturbances ahead of the 2024 season.

“Together with the clubs, we decided to turn our previous security guidelines into directives. Our goal with this was to make it clearer for the clubs what is expected of them in the event of disturbances inside the arena. Additionally, we are working long-term to strengthen dialogue with various parties and stakeholders while discussing disturbances from a sustainability perspective with the clubs. We strongly believe in the path we have chosen, where the exclusion strategy is central, while using dialogue-based methods to build bridges toward a more sustainable climate.”

In the shadow of the security work, Johan describes an intense process of getting a new strategy in place. Additionally, some organizational changes were made, including the recruitment of Jessica Linnman as the commercial director starting in the summer of 2024.

“The commercial rights are one of the strategy’s four focus areas, and Jessica will be a key figure in future work involving sales, partner relationships, events, marketing, and business development. She has extensive and comprehensive experience in the areas that were crucial for us during the recruitment process, and as a former partner, she is already well acquainted with both the Swedish Professional Football Leagues and our members.”

The single largest and most important issue concerning current and future commercial rights is the media agreement for Allsvenskan and Superettan. The current TV contract with Warner Bros. Discovery expires after the 2025 season and is, of course, a highly prioritized issue.

“We are fully aware of the challenges in the media market, which means that we need to explore every opportunity for the future. However, we are confident that we possess a very attractive media right that several media houses want in their portfolio, but we have great respect for the current situation. Strengthening our commercial expertise is one of several pieces to the puzzle for achieving a good solution for the 2026 season and beyond.”

The other focus areas in the strategy are the Football Experience, Sustainable Cooperation, and the Sport itself.

“Looking at the sporting aspect, the strategy states that we centrally aim to work for two high-quality leagues that challenge comparable leagues internationally, that our leagues are in constant development, and provide our clubs with the right conditions to qualify for group stages in Europe more frequently. We are optimistic about this summer’s qualifiers and have strong faith in the four clubs that will represent Swedish elite football in UEFA’s three different tournaments.”

With nearly a third of Allsvenskan and Superettan played, Johan happily notes that the focus is once again on the fantastic atmosphere of the matches and, not least, the football itself.

“The start of this season truly shows that elite football offers something unique in Europe. All parties involved in football have taken responsibility for creating a better environment at our matches, and when we are at our best, few things can match the atmosphere in Swedish arenas. Our football is also starting to resonate across Europe, where envious glances are cast towards our democratic structure and the atmosphere in our stands. The supporters deserve praise for how they have handled the start of the season, and now we hope the rest of the season continues on this positive path.”