With just five rounds of the Polish Ekstraklasa season completed to date, we have surprisingly already bore witness to three coaches leaving their positions. With Orest Lenczyk’s dismissal from Śląsk Wrocław being not much more than a formality, and Tomasz Fornalik’s short tenure at Ruch Chorzów ending after a series of poor results, this week saw 38-year old Kamil Kiereś walk away from GKS Bełchatów after just over a year at the helm.
Learning his trade as an assistant coach at Bełchatów underneath Paweł Janas, Rafał Ulatowski and Maciej Bartoszek, Kiereś knows the situation at the club very well. One of the smallest clubs in the Ekstraklasa, and with a population that could almost fit inside Warszawa’s Stadion Narodowy, many would see the Brunatni as punching well above their weight. In reality, if it wasn’t for the sponsorship of the Polska Grupa Energetyczna (Polish Enegry Group) who own the nearby mega-power station, it could be argued that Bełchatów would be languishing in the lower reaches of Polish football.
In fact, when PGE decided they were not to renew their sponsorship deal in the summer (a decision later reversed), there were real fears that the financial situation at the club could see them fail to receive an Ekstraklasa license.
With the lack of cash floating around the club, it’s hardly surprising that GKS are languishing at the bottom of the Ekstraklasa table without a point to their name. With some key players (Marcin Żewłakow, Łukasz Sapela and Grzegorz Fonfara to name a few) leaving from the side that finished third from bottom in 2011/12, and their replacements coming in as either free transfers or from their youth setup, relegation was widely touted as a possibility for Kiereś’ men from the outset. Coupled with arguably the the most difficult start possible to the season – Bełchatów have met all of the current top-four, as well as Wisła Kraków – Saturday’s home tie with Korona Kielce looks to be their first real chance of picking up a point.
However with the Bełchatów treatment table fully occupied at the moment – Mateusz Mak, Maciej Wilusz and Dawid Nowak all out for the near future – even the arrival of struggling Korona could prove to be too tough for them.
But even the problems and excuses weren’t enough for Kiereś. As the table stands, five losses from five games – no matter who the opponents – was more than enough for the coach to hand in his resignation at the Stadion GKS. The club agreed with Kieres, with president Marcin Szymczyk praising the coach for “acting like a real man, and proving that his heart is acting for the good of the club”. Whilst the president’s words could be referring to his decision to leave early on, allowing a new coach time to act, it is more likely that the president’s happiness stems from the fact that Kiereś’ resignation will mean that the club won’t need to pay him off.
With Second-team coach Jan Złomańczuk taking charge of Wednesday’s 3-0 Puchar Polski defeat to Śląsk, now comes a real test for Bełchatów – trying to find someone willing to take on the task of keeping Bełchatów in the Ekstraklasa. With little cash in the coffers, and ground already needing to be made up, the club will likely to look towards the unknown or unproven for the role. Whichever way the board decide to go, it looks to be a tough season ahead for the club. With relegation a real possiblity, the PGE sponsorship deal – which ends at the end of the season – may not be renewed, and that would spell disaster for the club.
With the future of the club potentially at stake, it’s important that the board make the right decision in appointing Kiereś’ successor. Then, however the season ends, there will be no room for excuses.