Football: Polish top league returns in times of pandemic

After a summer break, PKO BP Ekstraklasa, the highest Polish football league, returns in the shadow of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic.

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2020/2021 season will be different from previous ones. For the first time since the 2013/2014 season, there will be only 30 rounds and there will be no dividing into two groups after the regular season.

This is not the only change that was imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, there are limits of the number of fans that can observe matches live at the stadiums. For now, it is 50 percent of the venue capacity.

During matches, the coaches will be able to conduct five substitutions. There will be no ball boys or ball girls around the pitch, but there will be a number of balls placed around it.

The inaugurating match of the 2020/2021 season will be held in Lubin, western Poland. Local Zagłębie will face Lech Poznań, the runner-up of the 2019/2020 season.

The incumbent champion – Legia Warsaw – will start this season on Saturday in an away game against Raków Częstochowa.

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This season of Ekstraklasa includes two teams that after many years returned to the top league. Both Warta Poznań and Stal Mielec have champion titles under their belts, but they achieved these successes a long time ago.

Warta Poznań won the championship twice, in 1929 and 1947, but the last time it played in the highest league (called at that time I Liga) was in the 1994/1995 season.

Stal Mielec was also the champion twice, in 1972/1973 and 1975/1976 seasons. The last time the team from southern Poland played in the highest league was in the 1995/1996 season.

The third team that joined Ekstraklasa this season is Podbeskidzie Bielsko-Biała, which returned after relegation at the end of 2015/2016 season.

The final round of the 2020/2021 season is planned to take place in the middle of May 2021.

From next season, the number of teams in Ekstraklasa is planned to be increased to a total of 18.