After the farcical arrangements for the 2011 Polish Super Cup, where league winners Wisła Kraków and Cup winners Legia Warszawa failed to contest the trophy due to a combination of poor planning and a lack of suitable stadia, the country’s third most prestigious competition has been in turmoil. Even the latest edition – where champions Śląsk Wrocław took on Legia – had its critics, when it was played in the latter’s stadium rather than at a neutral venue.
With organisers looking for ways to breath a new lease of life into a contest which has become something of a laughing stock, Sports Market Intelligence company SportCal are reporting that the Ekstraklasa are looking into the viability of organising future contests outside of Poland.
The possibility of moving the competition away from Poland would have the dual aim of providing more coverage to the Polish League in foreign markets, whilst also providing Polish ex-pats with the opportunity to see their favourite sides in a competitive game. If the plan does eventually get the go ahead, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the USA are reported venues for the clash.
With the large Polish populations in all of the above mentioned countries, purported venue cities for the Superpuchar include London and Chicago, whilst the possibility of the competition being held in the Middle East hasn’t been ruled out, with 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar mentioned also. London’s Wembley Stadium – venue for this season’s Champions League Final – will no doubt be one of the venues mentioned, although Arsenal FC’s smaller Emirates Stadium would likely be more suitable. Chicago meanwhile has the famous Wrigley Field, which hosted a 2012 friendly game between Zagłębie Lubin and AS Roma; but with the cold Illinois winters, the long distance for Polish-based fans to travel, and the stadium’s main tenants being the Chicago Cubs baseball team, this looks the least likely option.
As well as a change of venue, the reported plans would also see the competition move from its traditional date – a week before the start of the season – to mid-February. The game would serve as a curtain-raiser to the Spring Round, also awakening competitive Polish football from it’s winter hibernation one-week early.
However, following the problems with the organisation of the 2011 competition, and the fans’ unhappiness at the following seasons’ game (Ekstraklasa winners Śląsk were only allowed the away section of the stadium for their fans), it remains to be seen if the decision will alienate fans further. With loyal supporters already having to travel large distances to support their sides, the notion of having to spend even more money and time travelling abroad to watch their team compete for domestic silverware will unlikely sit well.
On the flip side, playing a one-off competitive game – with the best players that the league has to offer – in front of an audience who may not all be familiar with Polish football will only serve to benefit the future of the league, providing a huge financial boost in the process. The potential benefits could include larger contracted TV deals, merchandising opportunities, and general advertising of the league.
If the Ekstraklasa is hoping to fight it’s way to becoming one of the top ten European leagues – competing against the likes of the Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga – it will need to adapt and even make small sacrifices. Whilst it may not be without risk, they may be onto a winner with this idea.