Just a few days after the white three quarters of Warsaw began to celebrate Legia’s tenth Polish championship, the small enclave in the north of the city has been left with a cloud, darker than the shirts worn by players and fans alike, hovering over it with no break in sight. As the Wojskowi aim to become the first Polish side in sixteen years to reach the holy grail of the Champions League group stages, their neighbours and closest rivals Polonia could potentially face the much longer journey of trying to climb their way back up the Polish league ladder. With their appeal against the league’s licensing decision thrown out, the Czarne Koszule’s financial situation means that they will find themselves in at least the third tier next term – with the possibility of being demoted even further.
But whilst the decision will not have been taken lightly, the truth is that it comes as no surprise at all. Whilst their performances on the pitch have at times been impressive, off the field the club’s showing has been nothing short of shambolic. Players without wages for nine months, games at risk of being cancelled – hardly the actions of a club aiming for a place in European competition.
With all of the controversy surrounding the club’s ownership by Ireneusz Król, many Polonia fans will be pining for the temperamental leadership of former owner Józef Wojciechowski. Whilst the construction magnate’s actions may have made the club something of a laughing stock, he never put the fans through the ringer like the current owner has.
But now the decisions have been made and finalised, attention will turn to what lies ahead at Konwiktorska. Another mass departure from the club is now a certainty, and starting again from scratch is the only option available.
It is also a real possibility that demotion to the lower leagues would mean that playing at Konwiktorska would no longer be a viable option for Polonia. Surely unable to afford the rent, as well as security for the large number of fans present, a move outside of the city could be a possible option – bringing the club’s association with the stadium to an end after 85 years.
But for now we can only speculate on some of the things that lie ahead. What is sure though is that Sunday’s clash with Pogoń Szczecin will likely be the final time that players such as Piątek, Wszołek and Todorovski pull on the famous Czarne Koszule. With most, if not all of the squad set to follow them out of the door very soon, these are very dark days indeed.
But whilst the situation is bleak, fans can hold solace in the fact that this isn’t the first time that Polonia have been almost wiped from existence. Through great battling, supporters helped to prevent the club’s move to Katowice last summer. Now with their beloved club once again in an hour of need, the black-shirted fans will no doubt rally together in an attempt to help them climb back, even from the lowest reaches of the pyramid.
Whilst there is no doubting that there are tough times ahead, if any set of fans have the resilience and determination to see it through, it is Polonia’s. Whether it be standing up to the authorities during the Russian Partition, or it’s players fighting in the Warsaw Uprising, the Polonia flag is still flying. Now faced with the results of Król’s own reign of terror, you wouldn’t bet against them battling bravely once more.
Do widzenia Polonia. Good luck, and we hope to see you again very soon.