Football: Polish clubs announce new league

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POLAND'S LEADING clubs have set up a breakaway league in a bid to win greater financial freedom from their football federation, the PZPN, a top club official said yesterday.

The Independent Polish League - which will still be under the auspices of the PZPN - is being created by 15 of the 16 clubs in the First Division in order to marginalise the PZPN president, Marian Dziurowicz, who is locked in dispute with the government.

They were joined by 18 of the 29 Second Division clubs in a sweeping revolt against Dziurowicz's autocratic management style and the tight grip PZPN holds over the finances of Polish football. The new league has to be established with the agreement of the PZPN, as an outright rebellion would draw the wrath of world football authorities, who would ban clubs and players from both European club and international competitions.

Zbigniew Kozminski, the president of Wislaw Krakow said: "The issue for us now is to create a league independent of the PZPN and to get as much power in our hands as possible. The lawyers from both sides are working on the details of the contract to set up this league." Kozminski has been appointed temporary vice-president of the new body.

It was reported that the clubs are demanding the right to schedule fixtures, negotiate sponsorship and television deals and keep most of the money earned from transfers. The PZPN currently keeps a large slice of transfer earnings. Many Polish clubs rely on selling players abroad to keep themselves from bankruptcy.

The clubs also want to supervise the work of referees, after media charges that officials were accepting bribes to influence results.

Most First Division clubs refused to play last weekend in a bid to force Dziurowicz's resignation. He offered to compromise by agreeing not to stand for re-election in November - but this failed to satisfy the clubs, who will strike again this weekend.

The strike only covers First Division games, with Polish teams still playing in European matches. Kozminski said the clubs had dropped their demand that Dziurowicz quit, and were instead demanding he recognise the new league.