"Our research was not good enough"

The controversy finally became too much. After the reports that circulated in the media on Wednesday, Skellefteå AIK made the decision to terminate Kenny Agostino's contract . 'This will be a lesson for us for future recruitment,' says sports director Niclas Lundkvist toNorran.

Niclas Lundkvist (left) and Erik Forssell (right) explain the decision to ultimately terminate the contract with Kenny Agostino (center) and admit that there were shortcomings in the research work.

Niclas Lundkvist (left) and Erik Forssell (right) explain the decision to ultimately terminate the contract with Kenny Agostino (center) and admit that there were shortcomings in the research work.

Foto: Bildbyrån/Norran/Montage

Ishockey2023-08-24 12:15

It all started on Monday.

At 16:00 Skellefteå AIK announced the signing of 31-year-old American Kenny Agostino. Agostino played last season for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod. AIK was the first Swedish club to sign a player who had played in the Russian KHL last season.

The signing sparked immediate anger. At the same time, it was clear that opinions were divided, as the 31-year-old was said to have signed his contract with the KHL club months before the Russian attack on the Ukraine.

That was AIK's reasoning for the signing, along with Kenny Agostino's apparent efforts to terminate his contract with the KHL club last summer.

But on Wednesday everything took a turn for the worse. This was after the revelation by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that Agostino had been on the verge of a move to another club last summer. At that time, an agreement with Växjö was supposedly in place.

Shortly afterwards, Expressen revealed an SMS sent by Agostino while negotiating with Växjö:

"I find it difficult to give up such a big difference in money. I understand that it's unknown, but it's such a big difference. They keep guaranteeing that I will get a visa. It's very confusing," the text said.

Växjö's sports director Henrik Evertsson told Expressen: "I confirm that we had signed him, and the message we received was that he quit because he thought our pay was far less than his KHL contract.

The exact truth of this story may never be fully revealed. But the new information, which turned the storm into a hurricane, finally became too much for AIK.

On Wednesday, Skellefteå's North Power supporters' association also came forward and made it clear that they no longer supported the club's decision to sign Agostino and demanded that the contract be terminated.

And so it was done.

At 16:10, just two days and ten minutes after the news first broke, Skellefteå AIK announced that they had "terminated the contract with Kenny Agostino" and the club was forced to move on.

Two days and ten minutes. That's how long Kenny Agostino was an Skellefteå AIK player.

When Norran contacts AIK's sports leadership, it quickly becomes clear that the last few days have been extremely hectic:

It has definitely been exhausting, especially with so much external pressure. But overall the support from everyone in the community has been reassuring," says sporting director Niclas Lundkvist.

What led you to cancel the contract with Agostino?

– It is a comprehensive assessment of the situation, where new information circulating in the media and from other sources has changed our position. That's why we decided to terminate the contract, says Erik Forssell, AIK's general manager.

But how did you miss this information when you signed the contract?

–That's something we're going to learn from when hiring in the future, says Forssell. 

– We believed that we had all the facts, but we just didn't research thoroughly enough, says Lundkvist.

– Despite our shortcomings and a stressful week, we felt strong support from everyone in the organization, and we're grateful for that, he adds.

How do you see the loss of a good player in terms of team building?

– There are other players in the market, so the work continues. It's not a problem for us, says Forssell.

In a press release, club director, Åsa Andersson, also shares her point of view:

"Over the past few days, there have been many exchanges with partners, members, supporters and others. Everyone's love and commitment to the club is our most important asset. Together, we are moving forward for the best of Skellefteå AIK".