Polish club crisis sees latest casualty Lodz dropped two divisions

lksBy Krzysztof Baranowski
17 April - LKS Lodz, one of Poland's oldest league clubs with a proud 105-year tradition, has declared itself bankrupt and unable to pay money owed to former players and coaches.

The club has been stripped of its license to play in the Polish First Division (the second tier of Polish football) and will now be forced to play two divisions lower in the fourth division.

The financial crisis in Polish club football is not confined to Lodz. Polonia Bytom, another long-standing top tier club is in a similar situation yo Lodz and is expected to suffer a similar fate.

Lodz had been battling against financial meltdown for some time. The club was relegated from the top tier of the Polish game in 2012 but was unable to solve its disastrous financial situation. Lodz has struggled through the current season and at times performed creditably on the field, but it has never been able to find a solution to its debt problems.

After starting the second half of the current season, Lodz eventually called it a day and pulled out after five rounds, unable to complete its commitments. All the club's remaining matches to the end of season will be declared walkovers and Lodz will be placed bottom of the table.

Next season Lodz will be dropped two divisions and will start in the fourth league. Polish football pundits reckon it will take at least 10 years for Lodz to recover their former glory and work their way back into the higher divisions.

Lodz owes outstanding wages to five players - Tomasz Nowak, Seweryn Gancarczyk, Cezary Stefanczyk, Damian Serweryn and Robert Sierant - coaches and a player agent. The Licence Commission of the Polish Football Association withdrew the club license after debt amounting to PLN10m (€2.3m) had remained unpaid and no settlement plan appeared to be forthcoming.

In the second half of the current season, Lodz played juniors from a local sports school in its first team. The club is now set to start next season in the fourth division with players from a football academy.

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