Grzegorz Rasiak (Bolton/Southampton), Maciej Żurawski (Larisa), Tomasz Kuszczak (Manchester United) and Artur Boruc (Celtic) are all set to make an amazing return to Polish football when they return to play in the Polish league next year. The Polish Football League (PZPN) together with Donald Tusk’s government have begun an audacious campaign whose aim it is to improve the level of local Polish football and its image in Europe.
Poland (and Ukraine) will be hosting the European Championships in 2012 and the government is desperate for Poland to be taken seriously. The PZPN and Polish government have drawn up a five-point plan which includes: (1) infrastructure (new stadia as part of Euro 2021 and more football pitches in poorer areas); (2) TV (renegotiation of current TV deals allowing more TV stations to show more matches); (3) sponsorship (new league sponsors from a world-wide brand); (4) competition hosts (Poznań and Wrocław will both try and host a major European trophy final in 2010 and/or 2011); (5) new footballers (the league will attempt to attract a higher calibre of player).
The fifth point has caught the eye of football journalists. In an effort to bring in more money, the government have created a company Star Piłka s.a. which will feed the Polish league and all of its teams. Those clubs that fulfill certain requirements (supporting grassroots football in local schools, individual sponsorships for talented youngsters, community initiatives) will be given the chance to bring in star players bankrolled in full by Star Piłka.
Already the government has negotiated deals with Grzegorz Rasiak (Bolton/Southampton), Maciej Żurawski (Larisa), Tomasz Kuszczak (Manchester United) and Artur Boruc (Celtic) which will see them join, in all probability, one of the top teams: Wisław Kraków, Legia Warszawa, Lech Poznań or Śląsk Wrocław (taking the place of Groclin next season). The PZPN has also intimated that deals are currently being struck with Ebi Smolarek (Racing Santander), Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich) and Lukas Podolski (Bayern Munich).
Should the majority of these players sign on for the new Polska Exktraklasa, the government in the guise of Star Piłka, has agreed to make audacious bids for the likes of Fernando Torres (Liverpool), Juninho (Lyon) and Daniele Bonera (AC Milan) the following season. The worry is, however, that the Polska Ekstraklasa will have the same short-term attraction as the MLS or Kuwaiti League and after two or three seasons everything will return to normal. Star Piłka representatives are adamant that even three seasons of high-class football will be enough to raise Poland’s profile ahead of Euro 2012 and generate enough money to give the Polish League a certain level of financial buoyancy.