Ekstraklasa champion to receive state funding for stadium revamp

Featured image credit: Raków Częstochowa

Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has pledged PLN40m (£7.68m/€8.82m/$9.6m) in Government funding to help redevelop the home of newly-crowned Ekstraklasa champion, Raków Częstochowa.

Raków claimed the first Ekstraklasa title in its 102-year history last week after only returning to the top division of domestic football for the first time in two decades in 2019-20. This season’s Ekstraklasa triumph was preceded by consecutive runners-up finishes, but Raków’s ambitions are currently hampered by its stadium.

Miejski Stadion Piłkarski “Raków” first opened in 1955 and has a current capacity of only 5,500. It is not eligible to host UEFA Champions League games beyond the third qualifying round, and can only stage the qualifying rounds of other UEFA club competitions. The club therefore currently needs to find another home outside of the city of Częstochowa to play such matches.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday (Thursday), Morawiecki said: “In order for this success to grow and be enjoyed more and more, not only for the inhabitants of Częstochowa, but all fans of Raków, we have already decided to invest state funds and support this success. 

“We will support the reconstruction of this stadium to such a level that it can also serve the club in European competitions. According to the preliminary cost estimate and preliminary calculations, the redevelopment of this stadium will cost between PLN60m and PLN70m. 

“It will increase the number of seats and more than half of this pool, i.e. about PLN40m, will be allocated by the state treasury.

“As for the work schedule, it depends mainly on the authorities of the city of Częstochowa. We have been assured by the Ministry of Sport that these funds can be released relatively quickly and here the construction time depends mainly on when the design works will be completed and the tender will be announced. 

“It seems to me that the real date, if everything goes well, will be the middle of next year.”

Raków is said to be targeting expansion to a 15,000-capacity stadium. Club owner, Michał Świerczewski, said: “Talks have been going on for many months about what we can do to bring European cups to Częstochowa as quickly as possible, so that we don’t have to rent a stadium outside of Częstochowa. 

“Hence the concept of redeveloping the facility to meet the requirements of a UEFA category four stadium and this is our short-term goal. We would like to rebuild two grandstands – the West and North Stand. We would like to add one training ground, change the road layout in the vicinity of the stadium and equip the stadium.”

The remainder of the funding for the project will need to be provided by the City of Częstochowa, which owns the stadium. “We are currently preparing to implement the second stage of the reconstruction, which involves investments in the infrastructure around the stadium,” City spokesman Włodzimierz Tutaj told the Gazeta Wyborcza.

“For this purpose, we are to receive PLN9m from the Ministry of Sport, and the city’s own contribution will amount to approximately PLN7m. We do not know whether the amount of support and the estimates presented by the Prime Minister take into account the second stage, or whether it will be completely new support.

“The city is in talks with the club about further expansion of the facility, but we are still in the concept phase. As soon as everything is settled, it will be possible to start design works, but it all depends on the financial assembly and the scope of the task to be carried out.”