No groups in Polish top league next season: Ekstraklasa organiser’s CEO

Next season there will most likely only be 30 rounds of Ekstraklasa, the top Polish football league, and there will be no division into championship and relegation groups after the regular season, Marcin Animucki, the CEO of Ekstraklasa company which is the organiser of the competition, told Polish public broadcaster TVP.

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“Next Friday, during the sitting of the Polish Football Association (PZPN) board the schedule will be approved. We only have to settle cosmetic details. Most likely, the competition will commence on August 22 and there will be 30 rounds,” Mr Animucki said.

“The calendar is very difficult, by the end of the year we cannot use the dates in the middle of the week and we start a month later. Filling all Ekstraklasa and Polish Cup matches in it is a challenge. But the Cup is not endangered,” he added.

Because of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak, sports competitions in Poland were suspended in March. Ekstraklasa returned in May and finished on July 19. Legia Warsaw won the championship and Arka Gdynia, Korona Kielce, and ŁKS Łódź were relegated.

Mr Animucki said that the Polish clubs managed to survive the crisis caused by the pandemic. “We used the stimulus package. The clubs used all the mechanisms, which allowed them to survive the most difficult moments,” the CEO of Ekstraklasa said.

He also praised the clubs for fielding young players. Season 2019/2020 was the first one when all the teams had to place at least one player that was under 21 years. “Even without this rule, there were lots of young players. Legia Warsaw and Lech Poznań [the runner-up] have shown that work at grassroots pays off,” he said.

If season 2020/2021 looks like Mr Animucki said, it will be the first season since 2013/2014 without the division of the league into two groups after the regular season. The TOP8 were competing for the championship and passes to the European competitions, while the lower half tried to avoid relegation. Until the season 2017/2018, the points gathered by clubs were halved after the regular season.