One of the key arguments from clubs, such as from Lech Poznan in 2010, who were frustrated that the two teams they faced in the Champions League qualifying, Inter Baku and AC Sparta Prague, before getting knocked out, had already played several league games and had a full training camp, and Lech was just starting it's own training camp and only had played a handful of friendlies prior to their two biggest matches of the season. Inter Baku and Sparta Prague both were already a month into the season, and had a full camp under their belts while Lech was still trying to create chemistry between it's players and new signings, such as Artur Wichniarek.
Adding games to the schedule isn't as easy as it sounds. Boniek, and newly hired Sport director Piotr Nowak both knew it had to be done. However, the federation didn't want to add more teams, just for the sake to add games. Currently, the 16-team league is watered down enough with lack of talent on bottom teams and lack of depth on some others, including some good teams. So adding teams to the Ekstraklasa, was never an option.
One, of the several proposals given, they liked, and next Tuesday, December the 18th, the board will vote, and approve the new regulations for the Polish Ekstraklasa, which will go in-effect starting next season.
And here is how the "new" Ekstraklasa will look:
Rounds 1-30 will remain the same. Still 16 teams and each team plays each other twice.
However, the league will start either July 7 or 14th. In the 2010 Lech Poznan example from above, the season started August 7th that year, and Lech played it's first C.L. qualifier on July 14th in Baku. The league will go into a Winter recess on December 14th under the new rules. It will start back up mid-February and continue until April 7th.
After Round 30 is complete on April 7th, the league will be divided into two separate divisions. A winners bracket, and a losers bracket. Seeds 1-8 will play for the title, while teams 9-16 will play for relegation. These matches will be played from April 14th until mid-May. Teams in each bracket will have their points cut in half, and play each team once. Seeds 1-4 will get four home matches, and three on the road, while seeds 5-8 will play the opposite, three home, four away. So, finishing as a higher seed, not only gives you a point advantage but you also get an additional home match. For the losers bracket, seeds 9-12 will play four home games/three road games, while seeds 13-16 will only play three home games/four road games.
The purpose? It will add 7 games to the season for all teams. Under the current structure, clubs get 90 days off in the Winter, and 80 days off in the Summer. With this new plan, clubs will have 60 days off in the winter, and only 45 in the summer. More time for the players to remain on the field, developing their talents and for teams to get stronger internally, which may help the possibility of seeing a Polish team compete in the Champions League in the near future.
Last season's final table:
TEAM - POINTS - POINTS/NEW SYSTEM HEADING TO 7 GAME "PLAYOFF"
1. Slask Wroclaw - 56 - 28
2. Ruch Chorzow - 55 - 28
3. Legia Warsaw - 53 - 27
4. Lech Poznan - 52 - 26
5. Korona Kielce - 48 - 24
6. Polonia Warsaw - 45 - 23
7. Wisla Krakow - 43 - 22
8. Gornik Zabrze - 42 - 21
Based on last years final standings, Slask Wroclaw ended the season 14 points ahead of Gornik Zabrze, but once the playoff rounds start, they will only have a 7 point advantage on the 8th place seed, if the "new" system was in place last season. Each team will play each other once. And then a league champion will be determined. Same concept with teams 9-16 seeds. Besides adding just 7 games, it should be noted, as seen by how close the new standings would look going into the final 7 games, Lech only 2-points behind Slask Wroclaw, the 7 games would be competitive games. So not only are 7 games added, but they will be high level matches.
While I am not a true supporter of this system. I do believe, that a American style playoff, round robin type tournament would work better. As, games are not spread out for everyone, so weaker teams don't get the advantage of playing additional games, however, the better teams play more and the season would still start early/mid-July. That said, this is not the worst idea either. Others did propose other ideas that were even worse. Adding games is the key in this proposal. The Polish teams, who are littered with youth, need to play games. Starting training camps earlier and rewarding all the extra practice with more games, is the best thing for development of these young players.
Development of players aside, the league is building new stadiums at every corner of the country. And these stadiums need extra revenue. Adding four additional home matches in some stadiums is very important, but also, crowds are bigger in the warmer days then in the colder days, and league kicking off in July will only help attendance.