The Polish Football Federation (PZPN) has reacted to a match-rigging scandal that saw the arrests of two referees, a PZPN official and a former club president, by bringing in former national coach Andrzej Strejlau to head their refereeing department. The authorities have also decided to change the format of the Ekstraklasa for next season.
From 2005/06, the bottom two sides in the 16-team top flight will be automatically relegated at the season's end, while the club finishing third-bottom will enter a relegation/promotion play-off against the second division's third-placed side.
Regulations have also been introduced to repeal the rules limiting the number of non-EU personnel in Ekstraklasa squads. Although all teams are obliged to have eight Polish players in their rosters, from next term it will be possible to field a non-EU XI.
Champions Wisla Kraków, who have signed 27-year-old Brazilian João Paulista, have changed their coach and board of directors in the hope of a sustained UEFA Champions League challenge. The new man in charge, former Poland coach Jerzy Engel, is aiming for the group stage.
"I have faith that we can make this dream come true," the 52-year-old said. His first decisions were to omit Kamil Kuzera, Vlastimil Vidlicka and Serbo-Montenegrin Nikola Mijailovic from Wisla's training camp in Zakopane. "The first two are not good enough for my team, while Mijailovic behaved scandalously in not coming back from his holidays in time," Engel explained.
Wisla's traditional rivals Legia Warszawa have been busy on the transfer front, recruiting 21-year-old winger Sebastian Szalachowski from Górnik Leczna, with 34-year-old Tomasz Sokolowski going in the opposite direction. The UEFA Cup entrants have also signed two strikers from second division clubs - Marcin Chmiest from newly promoted GKS Belchatow and Marcin Klatt from Kujawiak Wloclawek.
Poland's other UEFA Cup competitors, Groclin Grodzisk Wielkopolski and Wisla Plock, have been quieter in the market. However, Groclin have extended Slovakian coach Dušan Radolsky's contract while Plock have brought in Marko Grizonic and Sead Zilic from Slovenia's NK Ptuj.
Meanwhile, Górnik Zabrze's best forward, Michal Chalbinski, has moved to Zaglebie Lubin, and KSP Polonia Warszawa have replaced coach Marek Motyka with former Poland defender Dariusz Kubicki. The 42-year-old, who left Legia last October, has agreed a two-year contract.
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