Christmas is a magical time of year for fans and players all over the world. However, for one side, every day is Christmas.


Then again, that's what you should expect from a Finnish side called FC Santa Claus.


Based in Lapland, this fun-loving side take to the field each week with Santa Claus' face on their badge, and the main man himself has even been known to visit their stadium Keskuskenttä to offer words of support.

The club, which goes by Santa for short, were founded back in 1993 when two local sides, Rovaniemen Reipas and Rovaniemen Lappi, merged together to form the most festive side in the world.


Club founder Tarho Iljin was one of the people behind the re-brand. He wanted to create a team which had the potential to explode in popularity, but they needed permission from Santa Claus himself if they were to use his image.


Fortunately, Lapland is also home to what locals will tell you is the one-and-only Santa Claus. After a brief meeting with the jolly old soul, who was known to play football while he was training for his sleigh-driving license, it was agreed that the teams - male, female and youth sides - could be born.

No, you're not dreaming. This actually happened.


They attracted mainstream attention in 1997 when 5,000 fans flocked to the ground to watch them take on ​Crystal Palace in a summer friendly. Palace stormed to a 5-0 win, proving that Santa was all about giving and putting smiles on other people's faces.


Santa himself has often been too busy to attend games, but that did not stop the team from a few years of success after their creation.


Inserted into the third tier of Finnish football, the Kakkonen, Santa enjoyed a number of impressive years on the pitch. Battling snow and the fear that Christmas could be stolen at any moment by The Grinch himself, they were more than just a gimmick and were actually a competitive side.

They managed seven seasons in the Kakkonen before being relegated to the Kolmonen, and they needed another eight seasons to claw their way back to the third tier. However, since then, it has been a real rollercoaster ride.


After narrowly avoiding immediate relegation, Santa actually finished top of the league in 2010, only for a late goal in the playoff final against IFK Helsingfors to spoil the fun. While that side made it all the way to the top flight, things haven't been so rosy for Santa.


Inconsistency has been a real problem, while they were even forced to declare bankruptcy in 2012. In the four years after that, Santa were relegated, promoted and relegated again. Hectic.


Fortunately, a Christmas miracle (and fundraising from chairman Juha Eteläinen) brought the club back from the brink of extinction. Deals with PUMA, EA Sports and Bewin Sports helped Santa survive, but that hasn't done much to improve their on-field performances.

Another relegation to the Nelonen followed, and the 2019 season was not one of good cheer for Santa.


They finished bottom of the league, winning just three of their 20 games and finishing with a goal difference of -83. As a result, they will play the 2020 season in the Vitonen - the sixth tier of Finnish football.


However, despite their struggles, Santa remain positive. It's a rule at Keskuskenttä that they must always try and channel the positivity of Santa himself, even though things look bleak.


If Santa can deliver presents around the world in one night, the players can continue to play football with smiles on their faces.

The club's motto is 'Don't Stop Believing'. That's a message from good-old Father Christmas himself, and it is something by which the club live every day.


Whether they're racing reindeer to the stadium or putting on elf suits to brave the snow for training, you can always find Santa going the extra mile to make people smile. If success comes along with that, then great, but that's not what Christmas is all about.


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