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|Founded||30 May 1948|
1949–2008 (as II liga)
since 2009 (as I liga)
|Number of teams||18|
|Level on pyramid||2|
|Relegation to||II liga|
|Domestic cup(s)||Polish Cup|
|International cup(s)||UEFA Europa League|
(via Polish Cup)
|Current champions||Miedź Legnica (1st title) |
|Most championships||Gwardia Warszawa (6 titles)|
|TV partners||Polsat Group (Polsat Sport)|
|2018–19 I liga|
I liga (Pierwsza liga, Polish pronunciation: [ˈpjɛrfʂa ˈliɡa]), since 2018–19 season currently named Fortuna I liga due to sponsorship reasons by Fortuna, is the men's second professional association football division of the Polish football league system, below the Ekstraklasa and above the II liga via promotion/relegation systems. Run by the Polish Football Association (PZPN) since its inception on 30 May 1948. The league was renamed from Second League (II liga) to First League (I liga) in 2008. It is currently contested by 18 teams, from 2002 all clubs onwards must have a licence, issued by the Association.
Before 1939, there were several plans to create a second, national level of Polish football system, but all failed. Instead, there were regional leagues of most Polish provinces, the so-called A Classes (see also Lower Level Football Leagues in Interwar Poland).
State Class in Austrian Galicia
In 1913 and 1914, the football championship of Austrian Galicia took place. At that time it was called the A Class Championship, with four top teams of the province (Cracovia, Wisla Kraków, Pogon Lwów and Czarni Lwów). Since there were many more football teams in Galicia, the B Class Championship was made for them. Also, in 1921, already in the Second Polish Republic, there were two levels: winners of regional A Classes played in the national championship, while winners of the B Classes (Cracovia II, Pogon Lwow II, AZS Warszawa and Union Łódź) had their own tournament. For financial reasons, this idea was abandoned after one year.
Second Polish Republic
In the Second Polish Republic, there were regional leagues, or A Classes, which were the second level of Polish football system, behind the Ekstraklasa, which was formed in 1927, see Lower Level Football Leagues in Interwar Poland. Since in the late 1930s only two teams were promoted to the Ekstraklasa, and there were as many as fourteen regional champions, there was a complicated system of playoffs. Firstly, winners of neighbouring A Classes played each other, and in the final stage, four teams competed, with two top sides winning the promotion.
Second level league was first created for the 1949 season, and was split into northern and southern sections, each comprising 10 teams. First plans to create this league appeared in 1947. On February 14 and 15, 1948, a meeting of officials of Polish Football Association took place in Warsaw. Officials from Gdańsk promoted the creation of the league, but this idea was opposed by the delegates from the most powerful regions of Polish football: Kraków, Łódź, Upper Silesia and Warsaw. On May 30, 1948, however, the second division was officially approved, with 18 teams in one group. On February 19, 1949, Polish Football Association decided to expand the league to 20 teams, divided into northern and southern groups.
First games of the new, second division, took place on March 20, 1949, with the first goal scored by Jozef Kokot of Naprzód Lipiny, in a game between Naprzód and Błękitni Kielce. First winners of the second division were Garbarnia Kraków (northern group) and Górnik Radlin (southern group): both sides were promoted to the Ekstraklasa. To determine a winner of the 1949 season of the second division, Górnik had to play Garbarnia in three extra games (4:2, 0:2 and 4:3). The top scorer of the first season was Mieczyslaw Nowak of Garbarnia, with 24 goals. Relegated were the teams of Ognisko Siedlce and PTC Pabianice (northern group), and Błękitni Kielce and Pafawag Wrocław (southern group).
For the 1951 season the format was changed to four groups, with eight teams in each group.
For the 1973–74 season the 2nd level was changed to comprise two sections, split into north and south.
For the 1989–90 season the league reverted to a single group.
In 2000 the number of teams was limited to 20 sides, then to 18. Champions and vice-champions received automatic promotion, while third place teams competed in playoffs. The bottom four teams were relegated.
From the 2008–09 season, the league was renamed as I liga. The number of teams competing remained at 18. Teams which place 15-18 were automatically relegated to II liga (West or East). The first and second placed teams were promoted to the Ekstraklasa. In 2014 II liga merged into one group and these rules were changed – the three worst-ranked teams are relegated, and the 15th I liga club compete in playoffs with the fourth placed II liga team.
|Bruk-Bet Termalica Nieciecza||Nieciecza||Stadion Bruk-Bet Termaliki||4,653|
|Bytovia Bytów||Bytów||Stadion MOSiR||1,500|
|Chojniczanka Chojnice||Chojnice||Stadion Miejski||3,000|
|Chrobry Głogów||Głogów||Stadion Chrobego||2,817|
|Garbarnia Kraków||Kraków||Stadion im. Henryka Reymana||33,3261|
|GKS Jastrzębie||Jastrzębie-Zdrój||Stadion Miejski||6,800|
|GKS Katowice||Katowice||Stadion GKS Katowice||6,710|
|GKS Tychy||Tychy||Stadion Miejski||15,300|
|ŁKS Łódź||Łódź||Stadion ŁKS||5,700|
|Odra Opole||Opole||Stadion Miejski||4,250|
|Podbeskidzie Bielsko-Biała||Bielsko-Biała||Stadion Miejski||15,316|
|Puszcza Niepołomice||Niepołomice||Stadion Miejski||1,000|
|Raków Częstochowa||Częstochowa||Miejski Stadion Piłkarski Raków||8,000|
|Sandecja Nowy Sącz||Nowy Sącz||Stadion im. Ojca Władysława Augustynka||2,850|
|Stal Mielec||Mielec||Stadion Stali||6,800|
|Stomil Olsztyn||Olsztyn||Stadion OSiR||3,500|
|Warta Poznań||Poznań||Stadion przy Drodze Dębińskiej||4,694|
|Wigry Suwałki||Suwałki||Stadion Miejski||3,060|
- ^ Garbarnia Kraków will play their home games in Stadion im. Henryka Reymana until their home ground (Stadion Garbarni) fulfills license requirements.
Champions of the Polish second level
- "Fortuna sponsorem tytularnym 1 Ligi". I liga. 20 July 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
- . "Foul Play". Warsaw Voice. 2003-08-28. Archived from the original on 21 February 2012. Retrieved 2008-07-31.
- Piotr Dąbrowski, Paweł Mogielnicki and Gwidon Naskrent (20 June 2007). "Poland 1949". Poland Final Tables (1st and 2nd level). RSSSF. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- Pawel Mogielnicki (26 July 1998). "History, part 1 1949-1959". Poland: druga liga. RSSSF. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
- Piotr Dąbrowski, Paweł Mogielnicki and Gwidon Naskrent (20 June 2007). "Poland 1973/74". Poland Final Tables (1st and 2nd level). RSSSF. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Piotr Dąbrowski, Paweł Mogielnicki and Gwidon Naskrent (7 March 2013). "Poland 1989/90". Poland Final Tables (1st and 2nd level). RSSSF. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
- "Kraków. Garbarnia porozumiała się z miastem w sprawie wynajmu stadionu Wisły. Klub z Ludwinowa skorzysta z trybuny na 4 tysiące widzów". Dziennik Polski. 26 June 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
- Gwidon Naskrent (9 June 2003). "Poland 2nd Division Champions". RSSSF. Retrieved 28 February 2012.