ACS Poli Timișoara

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ACS Poli Timișoara
ACS Poli Timisoara logo.svg
Full name Asociația Club Sportiv Poli Timișoara
  • Alb-violeții (The White-Purples)
  • Timișorenii (The Timișoara People)
  • Bănățenii (The Banat People)
  • Echipa de pe Bega (The Bega River Team)
Short name ACS Poli
  • 4 December 1921; 96 years ago (1921-12-04)
    as FC Politehnica Timișoara
  • 2012; 6 years ago (2012)
    as ACS Poli Timișoara
Ground Dan Păltinișanu
Ground Capacity 32,972
Owner Timișoara Municipality
Chairman Radu Birlică
Manager Leontin Grozavu
League Liga I
2016–17 Liga I, 12th
Website Club website
Current season

Asociația Club Sportiv Poli Timișoara (Romanian pronunciation: [timiˈʃo̯ara]), commonly known as ACS Poli Timișoara, is a Romanian professional football club based in Timișoara, Timiș County, currently playing in the Liga I.

The club is credited as the official record holder and legal successor[1] of the original club founded in 1921, FC Politehnica Timișoara, which went bankrupt and was dissolved, following the 2011–12 season. It is co-owned by the City Council and the County Council and has the backing of the Politehnica University of Timișoara, all three being active members in the legal entity running the club.[2] Poli Timișoara is a Romanian football club established in 1921. The team had won two Romanian Cups and was twice a runner-up in Liga I. It is ranked 8th in the Liga I All-Time Table, with 46 seasons played.

Named after and initially run by the Polytechnic University of Timișoara, the club was founded in 1921 by Traian Lalescu. After two decades spent in the regional leagues, Poli promoted in the first division in 1948. They have since spent 46 seasons at the top level, finishing as runner-up twice and featuring in six Romanian Cup finals. In the 2010–11 season, they finished in the second spot, but were relegated because of unpaid debts and incapacity to obtain a license for the next season.


Former logo.

Beginnings of Politehnica Timișoara (1921–1945)[edit]

The club was founded in 1921 by the Polytechnic University of Timișoara under the name Societatea Sportiva Politehnica.[3]

Its initial aim was to provide an opportunity for university students to work on their fitness within a competitive environment. The logistics of the sport proved problematic, as there were limited financial means available. Thanks to contributions gathered from university professors and employees, the club bought their first football kits, with white-black vertical stripes, and rented the "Patria" football stadium. It wasn't until 1928 that the club developed its own training grounds, "Politehnica", which were built by volunteers. Players for the team were chosen on merit from the pool of Timișoara students and high-schoolers, who trained after school hours during the week and played football on weekends. The football landscape in the city was already developed at that time, with CAT, RGMT and Chinezul dominating locally.

After spending three years in the District Championships II, Politehnica won promotion to the first tier in 1924, by defeating Kadima Timișoara. The club became established in the years to come, even finishing 2nd in the 1926–27 District Championships I, when Politehnica lost out to Chinezul by a single point, who were one of Romania's most famous football names at the time. However, the competitive level could not be easily sustained by a university club, as it was subject to the inflow and outflow of players conditioned by their student status. After a decline towards the end of the decade, the low-point came at the beginning of the 1930s, between 1931–1933, when due to insufficient material resources, Politehnica had to suspend its football activities. It reappeared in 1934 but remained a modest club, with mid-table classifications in the District Championships I, as well as the Divizia C and Divizia B, once they were founded. As war beckoned, the national championships were suspended and all football activities reduced to friendly matches and the "Cupa Eroilor" (1943–44).

Until the second World War, Politehnica was far from the number one Timișoara football club. Chinezul and then Ripensia won multiple Romanian championship, whereas the students's club failed to achieve similar results.[4] It did, however, propel several players to the Romania national football team, with the likes of Sfera, Ignuţa, Deheleanu, Chiroiu, Pop, Protopopescu and Sepi all wearing the national jerseys.[5]

Establishment as one of the city's most representative clubs (1945–1991)[edit]

The club promoted for the first time in the Divizia A in 1948,[6] and played under the name CSU Timișoara in the first season.[7]

In the following seasons (from 1950[8]), the club appear with the name Știința Timișoara. The club relegates for the first time in 1951,[9] but promotes after only one year[10] and played in the top league until the season 1958–59.[11] The team promoted back after only one year.[12] The following relegation came in 1963–64 season,[13] again for only a year.[14]

During the Știința years, Timișoara won its first trophy, the 1957–58 Romanian Cup, with a 1–0 victory against Progresul București.[15]

From the 1966–67 season, the team started using the name Politehnica Timișoara,[16] but the team goes to the second division in the same season.[16] Politehnica doesn't came back to the first division until 1973.[17]

Politehnica played for the first time in Europe in 1978–79 UEFA Cup, after finishing third in the 1977–78 season. The team defeated MTK Budapest (2–0 and 1–2), but lost in the second round against Honved Budapest (2–0 and 0–4).[18]

The second trophy won by Politehnica Timișoara was the 1979–80 Romanian Cup. The final was disputed against Steaua București and the final score was 2–1, after extra time.[15] Politehnica played in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, defeating Celtic Glasgow (1–0 and 1–2) and being defeated by West Ham United (1–0 and 0–4) in the quarterfinals.[19] They played again in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1981–82 season because the team lost the 1980–81 Romanian Cup to that year champions, Universitatea Craiova (0–6). Politehnica skipped the first round, and lost to Leipzig with 2–0 and 0–5.[19]

Politehnica Timișoara played in the Divizia A for ten years, until 1983.[20] The next period was spent between the Divizia A and the Divizia B, with promotions in 1984,[21] 1987,[22] 1989[23] and relegations in 1986[24] and 1988.[25]

After the 1989 Revolution, Politehnica played in the 1990–91 UEFA Cup, beating Atlético Madrid (2–0 and 0–1), but lost in the second round to Sporting Lisbon (2–0 and 0–7).[26]

Privatization and detachment from the Polytechnic University (1991–2001)[edit]

By state order, all public institutions were forced to relinquish and reorganize any owned sports clubs in 1991, to effectively privatize them. As a result, alongside the newly organized football club appeared a non-profit association, AFC Politehnica Timișoara.[27] The latter, consisting of previous club players and staff, was mandated with owning and protecting the club records and intellectual property.[28]

The club's swan song near the top of Romanian football for the next decade was to be the 1991-92 season. Poli finished 5th and also reached the Romanian Cup final, only to lose it on penalties against Steaua București. The consequent participation in the 1992–93 UEFA Cup, saw the club draw against Real Madrid (1–1 in Timișoara), before being defeated in the return leg (0–4).[26] Politehnica lost several key players in the years after the forced privatization, which slowly lead to the team's downfall. In fewer than twenty four months from their draw against Real, the club was relegated to the Divizia B in 1994.[29] Despite a fast return to the first league in 1995,[30] Poli failed to consolidate their position and were soon relegated once more after the 1996–97 season.[31]

An inability to rebound lead to mounting financial pressures. The club was temporarily owned by a Timișoara based businessman between 1998 and 2000, before the local authorities accepted the bid of an Italian investor, Claudio Zambon, to take over Politehnica.[32] Despite an initial financial outlay, Poli finished 15th and was relegated to the third league, Divizia C, where it had last played in 1938. To avoid such an outcome, Zambon and the local authorities struck a deal with a league two club, Dacia Pitești, and purchased their license to participate in the Divizia B. After failing to earn promotion to top flight, the 2001-02 season posed an insurmountable challenge for Politehnica. Zambon's departure following disagreements with the local authorities meant the club found itself in dire financial straits. Forced to use mostly youth players, Politehnica finished the season dead last, with one win and four draws to its name, but negative eight points in the standings, due to unpaid debts. Once again the club was bound to be relegated to the third division.[33]

Identity crisis, glory years and downfall (2002–2012)[edit]

In 2002, AEK Bucharest were promoted to Liga I, Romanian football's top division, for the first time,[34] whereupon Anton Doboș, the team's owner, moved it to Timișoara. It was renamed Politehnica AEK Timișoara, and received the full support of local authorities and Politehnica fans. However, the team was on the verge of relegation after only one year.[35] Poli was able to maintain the Divizia A spot after winning a play-off against Gloria Buzău.[36] The club consolidated during the next season, finishing on a safe mid-table position. Moreover, starting with the 2004–05 season, the team changed its name to FCU Politehnica Timișoara, trying to reestablish its former identity.[37]

Mid-season, Politehnica changed ownership once more. Former president Anton Doboș stayed on at the club for another year in a new position, while Balkan Petroleum Ltd., owned by Marian Iancu, took full charge. Significant investments in the transfer market transformed the club overnight, as it received the nickname "EuroPoli" for its newly found ambitions to reach the top of Romanian football. Results steadily improved, but a leap to the Liga 1 podium proved elusive until 2008-09, when Politehnica finished runner-up, a feat repeated two seasons later.

After the takeover by Marian Iancu, a dispute for the proprietary rights for the club name, colors and records arose. After prolonged litigation, Politehnica was forced to change its name to FC Timișoara, following a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It was deemed that the colors and records dating before 2002 were lost in favor of former owner Politehnica Timișoara, Claudio Zambon. The Italian had struck a deal with AFC Politehnica, the non-profit association which owned said proprietary items, when he left Timișoara during the 2001-02 season.[38]

At the end of 2007–08 Liga I, FC Timișoara returned tot European competitions, qualifying for the UEFA Cup.[39] It was the first time in sixteen years that a team from Timișoara had achieved European qualification. The team was eliminated by Partizan Belgrade in the first round by an aggregate score of 1–3.[40]

In 2008–09, Timișoara finished the season in 2nd place, qualifying the 3rd preliminary round of the 2009–10 UEFA Champions League.[41] The team defeated the reigning UEFA Cup champions Shakhtar Donetsk, but they were eliminated from the competition during the Playoff Round with an aggregate score of 0–2 by German club VfB Stuttgart. In the 2009–10 UEFA Europa League Group A, FC Timișoara finished in last place, after Anderlecht, Ajax and Dinamo Zagreb.[40]

After the 2009–10 Liga I, fifth placed team FC Timișoara were drawn in the third qualifying round of the Europa League against MyPa from Finland, which they surpassed 5–4 on aggregate, after a spectacular comeback from three goals down in the second leg. However, in the play-off round they were drawn against Manchester City and were defeated twice in both legs, 0–1 and 0–2.[40]

In November 2010, the Romanian Court of Appeal returned Politehnica's name, colors and records to FC Timișoara.[42] Due to rules that forbid changes of team names during a season, the team used the name FC Timișoara until the end of 2010–11 season.

Despite finishing second in the 2010–11 Liga I, the team was relegated to Liga II after the club failed to meet the requirements for obtaining the necessary licence to play in the first division.[43] They played in the 2011–12 Liga II under the name of PolitehnicaTimișoara, and gained promotion back to the Liga I but were again denied the licence and were dissolved in September 2012. ACS Recaș was moved to Timișoara and was renamed ACS Poli Timișoara .

Rebirth as ACS Poli Timișoara and recent years (2012–)[edit]

In the summer of 2012, ACS Recaș, a club recently promoted to the Liga II, was moved to Timișoara and renamed ACS Poli Timișoara[44][45] after the dissolution of FC Politehnica Timișoara.[46] Valentin Velcea continued as head coach,[47] while the roster consisted mostly of the core ACS Recaș players and several current and ex-players from FC Politehnica.[48] Since its conception, the club has been primarily financed by the local authorities,[49][50][51] as Timișoara mayor Nicolae Robu has insisted control should not be forfeited to private investors.[52]

The club initially required consent from the owner of insolvent FC Politehnica, Marian Iancu, to use the historic badge, history, records and colours, as these had been bequeathed for a 25-year period.[53] In December 2012, it was announced that ACS Poli has received these free of charge[54] and that it could use them starting the following season.[55] However, due to the complications of the legal formalities and because of the FC Politehnica's debts, the team kept on playing under the ACS Poli name and using black/white/yellow for their official kits instead of the traditional purple colour.[56][57][58][59] This changed in the 2015–2016 season, as the club received temporary right to make use of the historic colours.[60] As of February 2016, it was announced that the club is now the sole and full owner of all the rights pertaining to and deriving from the Politehnica Timișoara brand and records, following a court decision which nullified the original agreement between the founding club and record holders, and Marian Iancu's insolvent club.[1]

From a competitive perspective, the club has achieved two promotions to the Liga I, while also being relegated once. Its rivalries with FC Steaua București and FC Dinamo București have endured, as the home matches against both teams keep drawing in above average crowds.[61][62][63][64]

The team played in top-tier Liga I for the 2015-16 season but financial problems led to a 13th-placed finish and automatic relegation. They were reprieved, however, after Rapid Bucharest failed to obtain a license. The next season also started with point deductions and Timișoara escaped automatic relegation in the last minute of the last matchday. They qualified for the relegation play-off, which they won 5-2 on aggregate against UTA Arad to retain their top-tier status.

Supporters and Rivalries[edit]

Historically, Poli has been the most prominent football club in Timisoara after 1945, playing consistently in either the first or the second tier of Romanian football. Local rivalries with CFR Timișoara[65] and UM Timișoara[66] were relevant until the early 2000s. Afterwards, the former was relegated to a semi-professional status in the lower leagues and the latter was dissolved in 2008.

Nationally, there were strong rivalries with UTA Arad and Dinamo București. The matches against UTA were labeled as the West Derby, due to the proximity of Timișoara and Arad. Matches against CFR Cluj, FCSB and Universitatea Craiova also drew large crowds.

After the club reincarnated as ACS Poli in 2012, the core factions of the ultras movement decided to support an alternate club in the lower leagues, ASU Politehnica Timișoara. ACS Poli struggled to fill the void created by their departure, with smaller fan factions forming to support the club. Although top-bill matches with historic rivals still attract fans to the stadium, attendances have dropped compared to the averages attained in the 2000s.[67]




Current squad[edit]

First team squad[edit]

As of 20 February 2018

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Romania GK Mădălin Smaranda
2 Romania DF Denis Haruț
3 Romania DF Ionuț Murariu
5 Romania MF Cosmin Bîrnoi
6 Georgia (country) DF Akaki Khubutia
7 Romania MF Alexandru Ciucur
8 Romania MF Marius Croitoru (Vice-Captain)
9 Romania FW Alexandru Popovici
10 Romania FW Mihai Roman (on loan from CSU Craiova)
13 Romania MF Gabriel Vașvari
14 Romania MF Andrei Enescu
16 Argentina DF Maximiliano Oliva
17 Romania DF Cristian Melinte
18 Romania MF Andrei Artean
No. Position Player
19 Romania FW Sebastian Velcotă
20 Romania DF Alexandru Țigănașu
21 Argentina FW Esteban Ciaccheri (on loan from Rangers de Talca)
22 Romania MF Alexandru Munteanu
23 Romania DF Gabriel Cânu (Captain)
24 Romania DF George Neagu
25 Romania GK Cătălin Straton
26 Romania DF Raul Cochințu
29 Romania MF Adrian Zaluschi (on loan from Ripensia)
30 Romania DF Alin Șeroni
32 Romania DF Bogdan Străuț
33 Romania GK Vasile Curileac
85 Romania FW Octavian Drăghici
Romania DF Iulian Carabela

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
15 Romania DF Cristian Bocșan (to Ripensia Timișoara)
39 Romania MF David Pop (to ACS Ghiroda)
41 Romania FW Damir Totić (to ACS Ghiroda)
45 Romania MF Narcis Popan (to CSM Lugoj)
47 Romania DF Ciprian Sturz (to Timişul Şag)
Romania GK Mario Contra (to Ripensia Timișoara)
Romania GK Sebastian Ureche (to ACS Ghiroda)
No. Position Player
Romania DF Denis Ciobanu (to ACS Ghiroda)
Romania DF Harald Fridrich (to CSM Lugoj)
Romania DF Radu Motreanu (to SS Politehnica Timișoara)
Romania MF Alexandru Dincă (to ACS Ghiroda)
Romania MF Cătălin Doman (to Dunărea Călărași)
Romania FW Cristian Pădurariu (to CSM Lugoj)

Club officials[edit]

European record[edit]

UEFA Champions League / European Cup[edit]

Season Round Country Club Home Away Aggregate
2009-10 Third qualifying round Ukraine Ukraine Shakhtar Donetsk 0 – 0 2 – 2 (a) 2 – 2
Play-off round Germany Germany Stuttgart 0 – 2 0 – 0 0 – 2

UEFA Cup Winners' Cup / European Cup Winners' Cup[edit]

Season Round Country Club Home Away Aggregate
1980-81 First round Scotland Scotland Celtic 1 – 0 1 – 2 (a) 2 – 2
Second round England England West Ham United 1 – 0 0 – 4 1 – 4
1981-82 Preliminary round East Germany East Germany 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig 2 – 0 0 – 5 2 – 5

UEFA Europa League / UEFA Cup[edit]

Season Round Country Club Home Away Aggregate
1978-79 First round Hungary Hungary MTK Hungária FC 2 – 0 1 – 2 3 – 2
Second round Hungary Hungary Budapest Honved FC 2 – 0 0 – 4 2 – 4
1990-91 First round Spain Spain Atlético Madrid 2 – 0 0 – 1 2 – 1
Second round Portugal Portugal Sporting CP 2 – 0 0 – 7 2 – 7
1992-93 First round Spain Spain Real Madrid 1 – 1 0 – 4 1 – 5
2008-09 First round Serbia Serbia Partizan 1 – 2 0 – 1 1 – 3
2009-10 Group stage (A) Netherlands Netherlands Ajax 1 – 2 0 – 0 4th place
Croatia Croatia Dinamo Zagreb 0 – 3 2 – 1
Belgium Belgium Anderlecht 0 – 0 1 – 3
2010-11 Third qualifying round Finland Finland MYPA 3 – 3 2 – 1 5 – 4
Play-off round England England Manchester City 0 – 1 0 – 2 0 – 3

Total statistics[edit]

Competition S P W D L GF GA GD
UEFA Champions League / European Cup 1 4 0 3 1 2 4 −2
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup / European Cup Winners' Cup 2 6 3 0 3 5 11 −6
UEFA Europa League / UEFA Cup 6 22 6 4 12 20 38 −18
Total 9 32 9 7 16 27 53 −26



Most capped players[edit]

# Name Career Matches Goals
1 Dan Păltinișanu 1970–1985 271 24
2 Sorin Vlaicu 1987–2001 244 25
3 Emerich Dembrovschi 1966–1981 208 51
4 Valentin Velcea 1990–2006 180 12
5 Iosif Rotariu 1980–2000 173 33
6 Dan Alexa 2001–2011 138 5
7 Mircea Oprea 2000–2007 132 28
8 Gheorghe Bucur 2005–2010 124 52

Notable former players[edit]



Competitive, professional matches only. Only pertains to 2012 onwards.

As of 25 September 2017

Name Years League Cup Other Total
1 Romania Cristian Bărbuț 2012–2017 120 11 2 133
2 Romania Cristian Scutaru 2012–2017 100 9 1 110
3 Romania Alin Șeroni 2012–2014; 2016-present 85 10 2 97
4 Romania Alexandru Popovici 2013-2017 81 9 1 91
5 Romania Gabriel Cânu 2014–present 81 5 2 88


Competitive, professional matches only. Appearances, including substitutes, appear in brackets. Only pertains to 2012 onwards.

As of 21 July 2017

# Name Years League Cup Other Total Ratio
1 Brazil Pedro Henrique 2014-2017 18 (40) 2 (3) 2 (2) 22 (45) 0.49
1 Romania Szabolcs Szekely 2012–2015 18 (57) 2 (2) 0 (0) 20 (59) 0.34
3 Romania Cristian Bărbuț 2012–2017 13 (120) 1 (11) 1 (2) 15 (133) 0.11
4 Romania Alexandru Popovici 2013–2017 11 (81) 2 (9) 0 (1) 13 (91) 0.14
5 Romania Cristian Boldea 2012–2016 12 (72) 0 (2) 0 (0) 12 (74) 0.16


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  22. ^ "Season 1986–87". 
  23. ^ "Season 1988–89". 
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  44. ^ Robu a elucidat misterul: "Nu-i spunem Politehnica, îi spunem Poli!"
  45. ^ ACS Recaş a primit acordul lui Marian Iancu pentru a purta denumirea ACS Poli Timișoara
  46. ^ A treia operaţie estetică! AC Recaş se mută de luni pe "Dan Păltinişanu"
  47. ^ Velcea, reconfirmat ca antrenor la Timișoara! Ce a spus primarul după întâlnirea cu jucătorii
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  50. ^ "Din nou despre buget. Şi despre ACS". 
  51. ^ ACS Recaş, transformată în ACS Poli, trăieşte din bani publici: CLT i-a dat 4 milioane de lei!
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  54. ^ Marian Iancu a cedat gratuit palmaresul Politehnicii Timișoara!
  55. ^ ACS Poli s-a transformat în Politehnica Timișoara! Iancu le-a cedat culorile, denumirea şi palmaresul
  56. ^ "ACS Poli Timișoara porneste la drum fara violet, cu alb, negru si galben". 
  57. ^ "Marian Iancu explică de ce ACS Poli nu joacă în alb-violet la şase luni de la anunţul triumfalist al primarului Robu". Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  58. ^ "ACS Poli şi-a prezentat noile echipamente fără urmă de violet". Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
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  62. ^ "ACS Poli – Steaua 2013/2014". 
  63. ^ "ACS Poli – Steaua 2015/2016". 
  64. ^ "ACS Poli – Dinamo 2015/2016". 
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External links[edit]