Arsenal Europa League opponents Ostersunds: Statue for English boss, former Osset Town and Spennymoor United players and an 8,000 capacity stadium – how much do you know about Europa League rivals
PUBLISHED: 13:37 11 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:41 11 December 2017
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Arsenal have been drawn to play in northern Sweden against Ostersunds FK in the Europa League round of 32 knockout stage. But how much do you know about them?
Arsene Wenger’s next opponent in the Europa League are called Östersunds Fotbollsklubb, known as Östersunds FK, Östersund or ÖFK.
The club was formed on 31 October 1996 after three local clubs – Ope IF, IFK Östersund and Östersund/Torvalla FF – merged to play their home games at the 8,466 capacity Jämtkraft Arena with club colours black and red.
Since their formation – a month after Wenger took charge of the Gunners – the club has played mostly in the third tier of Swedish football.
During the 2000s the club looked towards English football. In 2007 the director of football Daniel Kindberg used his friendship with Roberto Martínez and Graeme Jones to secure young players on loan from Swansea City.
The Swans were also the opponents for Ostersunds first game at their new ground – whose small capacity may cause problems for the large number of Arsenal fans wishing to attend the game in Sweden, as well as the thousands of passionate Scandinavian Gunners, even if the average temperature in the region in February is minus eight.
UEFA rules state the away club is guaranteed a minimum of 5 per cent of tickets which works out at 423.
However, four years ago Östersund were promoted to the second tier, the Superettan and in 2016 they made it to the Swedish first tier, Allsvenskan, for the first time ever.
Ostersunds stunning rise continued this year by winning their first major trophy the Svenska Cupen – or Swedish Cup – after beating IFK Norrköping 4–1 in the final.
The victory masterminded by Englishman Graham Potter saw them qualify for this terms’ Europa League, marking their first appearance in European competition.
On 13 July they beat Turkish giants Galatasaray 2-0 at the Jämtkraft Arena, knocking them out after a 1–1 draw in Istanbul.
Two goals by Saman Ghoddos in a win against PAOK on August 24 saw them qualify for the group stage as Sweden’s only representative in Europe this season – also making Potter the only British manager in the Europa League.
They continued to progress under Potter losing a single match during the campaign to finish second behind Athletic Bilbao and ahead of Hertha Berlin.
Former England U21 international Potter, who played for Southampton in their famous 6-3 victory over Manchester United in 1994, appeared for ten clubs during his journeyman career that also saw him turn out for Stoke City and West Brom before retiring at 30.
With support from the Professional Footballers’ Association, Potter graduated from the Open University in December 2005 with a Social Sciences degree.
He worked as a football development manager for the University of Hull and as assistant coach for the England Universities Squad. He also has Master’s in leadership and emotional intelligence.
In December 2010,Potter signed a three-year contract as Östersunds coach, who were then playing in the fourth tier of Swedish football – and the rest is history.
Potter’s squad includes former York City and Osset Town midfielder Jamie Hopcutt as well as former Thornaby and Spennymoor Town 23-year-old Curtis Edwards.
Supporters of the club have petitioned the local authorities in a bid to build a statue of 42-year-old Potter.
All the OFK team and staff supporting humanitarian work and specialist football clinics in the Darfur Refugee camps In Chad and donate a percentage of their salaries to support more than 100 students and coaches from Darfur.
Whether it will be installed in time for Arsenal’s visit in February 2018 has not been confirmed – but one thing is sure, Wenger’s next managerial opponent in the Europa League certainly – modest Solihull-born Englishman Potter who has taken Sweden by storm – certainly deserves one.