In a busy schedule of international football matches this week, Slovakia host Denmark in Trnava on Wednesday evening.
So far, so uninteresting, you might think, but actually there are sub-plots and narratives at play here which make this match a fascinating prospect for punters and spectators alike.
The Danish equivalent of the Football Association has gone to war with its players over the use of commercial rights, with the squad seeking a change to the deals they currently have in place.
But the Danish FA have rejected those demands, and a Mexican stand-off is ensuing.
At the time of writing, Denmark’s stars like Christian Eriksen, Kasper Schmeichel and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg won’t play against the Slovakians or against Wales later in the week, having turned down the chance to sign a temporary agreement that would see them through the fixtures.
Must the Show Go On?
Now, the Danish FA faces the choice of cancelling the fixtures – presumably they would be docked points for doing so against Wales as that is a Nations League match, or instead fielding a second-string starting eleven.
And here’s where things gets really weird: there are reports emerging that the DBU are considering fielding a team of celebrities and sporting stars from outside of football in a truly bizarre twist.
Is it any wonder that Slovakia, who were priced at 17/10 with the bookmakers before all this hubbub kicked off, are now as short as 2/17 to claim victory.
Now here’s a question: does that price still reflect great value should the Danes field a team of YouTube stars and reality TV stalwarts?
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
The Danish players’ union made their concerns public on Monday, in a statement which read: “There is currently no agreement between the DBU and the Player Association for the national team players, and it has always been established that the national team does not play without a collective agreement.”
You might be thinking it’s all about money, and that the dispute will be resolved when the Danish FA (inevitably) offers the squad more cash.
But that’s only partly the case, because the actual hot potato is the use of commercial rights. The Danish FA want to use the revenue to boost funding for community projects, but the players aren’t up for that as it impinges on their own personal sponsorship demands.
And so talks are in deadlock, with the match against Slovakia barely 24 hours away.
What Happens Next?
It is likely that Denmark will play Slovakia on Wednesday with a severely weakened team, largely made up of players from the Danish Superliga and the lower leagues domestically.
They will also be without manager Age Hairede and his assistant Jon Dahl Tomasson, who are implicated on the players’ side of the negotiating table.
Irish Sun writer Niall O’Riordan wrote on Twitter today (Tuesday) that none of the players in Denmark’s top two divisions had made themselves available for selection, and so the Danish futsal team would instead take to the unfamiliar turf.
That line-up features ‘Brizze’, a YouTube sensation in his homeland with more than 100,000 subscribers.
So what’s the betting angle? Well, if you move fast you can access 5/6 on Slovakia with a -2 handicap, and 57/50 that they win to nil. Both, given the latest developments, appear to be outstanding value.