Poland: Uphill journey of ŁKS

source: StadiumDB.com

Poland: Uphill journey of ŁKS Two-time domestic champions, one of Poland's oldest football clubs, ŁKS folded last year after insolvency. Now supporters are rebuilding it from scratch and have just filed a stadium capacity expansion application.

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This story begins like many other across the world of football. ŁKS had an impressive history: domestic champions not that long ago, in 1998; played in top flight for years; grew to become one of two largest sides in the city of Lodz with over 100 years in operation. Until last year, when the club's poor streak ended with insolvency and folding.

It came in an unfortunate moment, when the Ekstraklasa team was waiting for their new stadium to open, hoping new sponsors would inject money and boost the poorly performing side's position. But reconstruction of the stadium, launched in 2012, was quickly halted and abandoned by contractors. One of them went bankrupt, couldn't complete the works.

The club ironically followed suit, though it wasn't just because of the stadium – like many Polish clubs ŁKS was barely afloat already and this time didn't manage to continue operation. The club withdrew from all domestic tournaments in 2013.

From that point it was mostly its supporters who decided not to let go of the beautiful 105-year history. They reorganised the club and applied for new license under the same colours. As are the rules, their adventure had to begin in local amateur league. It may be called 4th League, but in reality it's the fifth tier.

By the end of 2013, or half way into the season, ŁKS reached top of the table. In December their stadium's reconstruction began. Seeing that the side is far from its past glory, the Lodz municipality decided to build only one stand of what was planned to be a new 16,500-seat stadium. The main grandstand is currently under construction and should see 5,700 seats available in mid-2015.

LKS fans in LodzPhoto: Jareczek, ŁKSFANS.PL

If that seems far too much for a club playing in an amateur division, it's worth to check the current attendance. While most of the old stadium is now destroyed, supporters are allowed to occupy 2,200 seats for safety reasons. In the first half of the season attendances were at under 2,000, recent games saw demand exceed capacity.

Now the club applied to open further 200 seats of the not-yet-demolished east stand to cope with increased interest. Ticket income is considered the current team's biggest revenue source.

And while sell-out crowds of 2,200 might not sound too impressive in global football, in Poland this kind of attendances are common in 1 Liga, the second league. And even there very few clubs face the problem of fewer tickets than fans. Actually, none does.

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