Together with Sorensen and Brandrup, he told the team that there would be no hard feelings for anyone who decided to go immediately. The rest, he said, would wait until Friday at 3 p.m. If no money arrived then, if no new owner had been found, they would have no choice but to leave.
The mood was anxious. In private, the players would ask each other their intentions, but it was hard, Hebo said, to be sure everyone was being honest. “Maybe one person told you one thing and said something different to others,” he said. Surreptitious phone calls prompted suspicion: Was he talking to his agent, arranging a move?
Tauber did what he could to canvass opinion. “I talked to almost everybody,” he said, about contracts, but also about wives, and children, and mortgages. Looking back, now, he knows that not everyone told him the truth.
In the end, five players decided they could not take the risk, and left. One, Casper Nielsen, a fullback who had already agreed to sign for Aarhus at the end of the season, simply brought his move forward. Even then, Tauber said, “he refused to be the first: He would not be the one who took everyone with him.”
By Thursday night, though, Tauber feared it was over. He had heard there might be a chance of salvation, but time was running out. The artificial deadline — 3 p.m. the next day — was fast approaching. “I knew it was close, but I also knew they were missing a few million kroner,” he said of the new investors. And so he spent that night on the phone to his teammates one more time, to “hear their situations, hear their thoughts.”
At 6 a.m. on Friday, Byder’s phone beeped. “Thanks for last night,” read the first email on the thread. Seven of the potential investors that had gathered the previous night had agreed to try to save the club. A local lawyer, Lars Borring, registered a company: The Friends of Lyngby had been born. That morning, the members started transferring money — some $50,000, some closer to $1 million — to replenish the club’s accounts.
After training, the squad gathered in the canteen at Lyngby’s stadium. The last of the money had landed in the new company’s accounts with 15 minutes to spare. Petersen and Jorgensen told the players the money was in place. They would be paid.
“Boom, like that, everyone stays,” Hebo said. In his car on the way home, Tauber cried with relief. Byder, though, had another problem. The bank account was empty again.
The Friends Multiply
There were, at the start, seven Friends of Lyngby. There are now more than 20: lawyers and chief executives and restaurateurs, as well as several players who started their careers at the club’s academy. Andreas Bjelland, a Danish international now with Brentford in England, was the first; three others have followed.
They are, as Byder said, a “team behind the team,” their experience in a whole swath of industries, all of which he believes can help develop the club in some way. “We reflect different resources,” he said. Sponsors are returning, too, eager to be involved.
The club’s accounts, quickly emptied to pay the players’ overdue wages and the team’s outstanding bills, have been filled again. The new owners remain open to further investment; the only requirement is that any further Friends should not have “terms and conditions” to their input. This is with the heart, as Byder told the first few to sign up; it is investing in fun.