Polonia Warsaw gets lifeline

Polish top-flight club Polonia Warsaw looks set to avoid collapse as its new owner says he will not merge them with another team, a move that would have doomed the 101-year-old side.

Energy industry magnate Ireneusz Krol says he has ripped up plans to fold Polonia into the second-division side he owns, GKS Katowice.

"There will be no merger. Polonia will be staying in the first division, at their Konwiktorska ground (in Warsaw), and GKS will remain in the second division," Krol was quoted as saying on Monday by Poland's PAP news agency.

His announcement was the latest twist in a convoluted saga in which Krol signed a deal last week with Polonia's then-owner, construction baron Jozef Wojciechowski.

Under its terms, Polonia was sold along with its berth in the country's 16-club top flight, known as the Ekstraklasa.

The slot would have gone to a newborn club known as KP Katowice, to be formed by combining Polonia and GKS Katowice, which is based in Poland's southern coalmining region of Silesia.

But the announcement enraged fans of both teams. In Warsaw, angry fans demonstrated at Wojciechowski's offices.

Polonia supporters had also announced plans to enter a new club of the same name in the fifth division, to maintain a century of tradition.

It was not clear whether the Polish football association would have approved KP Katowice's entry into the Ekstraklasa. It was due to consider the matter on August 2, two weeks before the new season kicks off.

The plan may also have fallen foul of new UEFA rules set by European football's governing body that aim to restrict trading in league berths.

Ironically, Polonia once benefited from such a switch.

Wojciechowski, who bought them in 2006, was known for his tough approach and ambitions for the club.

After the club was relegated, he controversially bought another team, Groclin Grodzisk Wielkopolski, in 2008 along with its top-flight berth, combining the two to return Polonia to the Ekstraklasa.

Polonia failed in its bid to mark its 100th anniversary by winning the 2011 title, and Wojciechowski later announced plans to get out of football.

Source AFP