Pat Nowak

Korona Kielce: A Senegal Rescue Mission?

Iyane Ibrahima Thiam, the potential new owner of Korona Kielce, attended a press conference in Kielce this week with a delegation from Senegal / Youtube
Korona Kielce: A Senegal Rescue Mission?

Senegal are closing in as the new ownership of Korona Kielce – a sentence no one in Kielce would have had believed even if you told them you were from the future.

Earlier this week, delegation and ministry representatives from Senegal arrived in Poland to officially announce their intentions to the public on obtaining ownership of the LOTTO Ekstraklasa outfit.

This all comes from a marketing initiative that the Senegalese government is undergoing to extend their exposure to Europe. Poland, being one of the largest and most economically stable of countries within the EU, was chosen by the Senegalese government as a strong candidate to undergo this exposure. Most preferably through the function of sport. Enter Korona Kielce.

Korona Kielce have struggled for a few years now in terms of shaky ownership and financial trouble. A year ago there were even talks that fell through about the club being sold and used as a satellite by Italian giants AS Roma. Currently, the Polish outfit is owned by the city whom which is struggling to keep them afloat.

In this situation, both sides are in need of each other. Senegal seek the European exposure, while Korona need the financial stability to avoid dropping out of Polish tier one football. According to Korona president Marek Paprocki, this relationship would be a perfect match as both sides have something significant to gain from it.

According to the details, an agreement has been negotiated between the city of Kielce and NSFC Football Academy, the company working on behalf the Senegalese government. NSFC is to take ownership of 75 percent of the shares of Korona for which they will pay 2 million and 550 thousand zloty. A million is first to be paid straight towards the city on the day of the contract signing; the remaining amount will be paid in increments until June 30, 2019. NSFC, whom is financed by the government of Senegal, is to also fund the club 2 million zloty each year.

“We want to promote Senegal in Poland. I think once we will become the owners of Korona Kielce then almost everyone in Poland will hear about Senegal. It will draw attention to this country in Africa and will establish good business contacts.” said Peter Kaluba, Polish entrepreneur who has strong ties with NSFC as the Management Consultant and overall a key figure in operation ‘Korona-Senegal’.

Kaluba is the man who introduced the prospect of Senegalese wealth to Korona. Furthermore, he is aware of the well known racism rooted within the club’s more die-hard fanbase. Certain extreme fans have made it clear that if Korona falls into the hands of African ownership, than they will boycott attending games.

“I can confirm that the Senegalese think evolutionary. Through this partnership we will certainly do everything to fill the stadium with fans. We will talk with all those who will want to contribute to creating a good show at the stadium.” Kaluba told ‘echodnia.eu’ in regards to the matter.

All great news but what has thus far stagnated the transfer of ownership is exactly what is promised to save the club – money. The initial agreement between the city and the new investor has already been signed, but the Senegalese have still yet to send a dime to the municipality’s bank account.

In response, Kaluba at a press conference on Monday addressed the elephant in the room. He explained that the procedures currently in force in Senegal do not allow for a brisk way to send such a high amount and assured that the problem is not money. So when will the payment be issued to actually complete the initial agreement? Right now that has yet to be disclosed by either party. This can for both a combination of either legal reasons or because simply no one really knows – at least not on the Polish side.

Kielce mayor Wojciech Lubawski admitted that he is still waiting for the final transfer of the required sum and the cut-off date to finalize the agreement is coming to an end, for which he did not wish to reveal. Lubawski, also a strong supporter of the club, has been working fruitlessly for the last several years to find Korona a stable owner. To date, the investors from Senegal have been his best bet to finally accomplish this.

Suffice to say, Korona are in a race against time. The danger of bankruptcy looms closer everyday for the club with one of the most notable racist fanbases in the nation – which ironically looks towards the rescue of African investors. The least likely pairing one could imagine. As the old saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures and Korona are living proof of this.

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Pat Nowak
@PatricNova

Pat Nowak is a sports reporter covering Polish football at all levels, from the Ekstraklasa to the National Team. In addition to his work on PSN, Pat has previously written for ESPN.com and CTV Olympics.

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