ACS Poli Timișoara
Asociația Club Sportiv Poli Timișoara (Romanian pronunciation: [timiˈʃo̯ara]), commonly known as ACS Poli Timișoara, or simply as Poli Timișoara, is a Romanian professional football club based in Timișoara, Timiș County, currently playing in the Liga II.
|Full name||Asociația Club Sportiv Poli Timișoara|
|Short name||ACS Poli|
|2018–19||Liga II, 18th (relegated)|
The club is credited as the official record holder and legal successor 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. The team has won two Romanian Cups and was twice a runner-up in Liga I. It is ranked 5th in the Liga I All-Time Table, with 48 seasons played.
Poli Timişoara traditionally plays in white and purple kits, although it has used variations of black and white in the past. The club's home ground is Electrica stadium.
Beginnings of Politehnica Timișoara (1921–1945)Edit
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 and 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. 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.
Establishment as one of the city's most representative clubs (1945–1991)Edit
With Romania under a communist regime, these decades were a challenge for Politehnica, as the club represented an educational instiution of the highest tier. The numerous promotions and relegations between the first two national leagues were contrasted by the two Romanian cups won and the club's first forays into international football.
Politehnica was first promoted to Romanian top league, the Divizia A, in 1948, and played under the name CSU Timișoara in the first season. Shortly thereafter (from 1950), the club was renamed Știința Timișoara, in line with the desired nomenclature of the times. In spite of suffering its first relegation in 1951, the decade was an unusually consistent one, with the club returning swiftly to the top division and staying there until the season 1959. The high-point of the Ştiinţa years was winning the 1957–58 Romanian Cup, a 1–0 victory against Progresul București, with the club finishing joint first in the league in the same season, but losing out on goal difference.
The next decade saw the club struggle to remain in the first league, particularly towards the end of the 60s. However, it was then that the club's modern identity started taking shape. Firstly, in 1963, the largest stadium in Timişoara was completed. It was initially named "1 Mai", honoring the socialist workers' day, before being renamed several times in the 90s and finally settling on Stadionul Dan Păltinişanu. Secondly, the club reverted to its previous name of Politehnica Timișoara in 1966 and went to play during the next five decades on the then-erected stadium.
When Politehnica returned to the first league in 1973, after struggling to win promotion for several years, it went on to celebrate one of its best streaks in the top flight. With the likes of Emeric Dembrovschi and Dan Păltinişanu in the team, who both played for Romania and went on to become some of the most capped players in the club's history, and under the management of prof. Ion V. Ionescu, Politehnica lost that season's cup final. After managing a third place in the league with manager Angelo Niculescu in 1978, Politehnica took part in a continental competition for the first time. It was the 1978–79 UEFA Cup, where Poli defeated MTK Budapest (2–0 and 1–2), before going down to Honved Budapest (2–0 and 0–4) in the second round.
The club remained steady and managed to win its second cup trophy the following season, by beating Steaua București with 2–1, after extra time. Politehnica thereby qualified for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, where it managed to eliminate Celtic Glasgow (1–0 and 1–2), before being defeated by West Ham United (1–0 and 0–4) in second leg. In spite of losing another Romanian Cup final in 1981, the club qualified once more for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, where they lost to Leipzig 2–5 on aggregate.
After being relegated in 1983, Politehnica yo-yo-ed between Divizia A and the Divizia B, with promotions in 1984, 1987, 1989 and relegations in 1986 and 1988. Fans ironically called this period as the 'ABBA years'. As the Romanian Revolution, which started in Timisoara, signalled the end of an era, Politehnica managed to grab its most impressive result yet in European competitions, by eliminating Atlético Madrid (2–0 and 0–1) in the 1990–91 UEFA Cup.
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. The latter, consisting of previous club players and staff, was mandated with owning and protecting the club records and intellectual property.
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). 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. Despite a fast return to the first league in 1995, Poli failed to consolidate their position and were soon relegated once more after the 1996–97 season.
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. 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.
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, whereupon Anton Doboș, the club's owner, moved it to Timișoara. It was renamed Politehnica AEK Timișoara after merging with CSU Politehnica, a club owned and run by the Politehnica University, and received the full support of local authorities and white-purple fans. After a rocky first season, which required a spectacular relegation play-off against Gloria Buzău to avoid demotion, Poli AEK 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.
Financially difficulties looming, 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.
During the takeover by Marian Iancu, a dispute regarding 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 Politehnica Timișoara owner, 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.
Results on the pitch improved immediately after the takover, but a leap to the Liga 1 podium proved elusive until 2008–09, when Politehnica finished runner-up, a feat repeated two seasons later. The club did, however, rejoin European football the season before that by qualifying for the UEFA Cup – sixteen years after its last appearance against Atletico Madrid. More European appearances followed, culminating with the qualification for the 3rd preliminary round of the 2009–10 UEFA Champions League. The team defeated the reigning UEFA Cup champions Shakhtar Donetsk, but were eliminated from the competition during the Playoff Round, which still meant the club would take part in the 2009–10 UEFA Europa League group stage.
In November 2010, the Romanian Court of Appeal returned Politehnica's name, colors and records to FC Timișoara. However, at the end of the season, despite finishing second in the Liga I standings, the club was relegated to Liga II after failing to meet the licence requirements to play in the first division. Under the name of Politehnica Timişoara, they took part in the 2011–12 Liga II season and finished first, but were again denied the licence to play in Liga I. Consequently, the club filed for bankruptcy and was dissolved in September 2012.
Rebirth as ACS Poli Timișoara and recent years (2012–)Edit
In the summer of 2012, ACS Recaș, a club just promoted to the Liga II, was moved to Timișoara and renamed ACS Poli Timișoara after the dissolution of FC Politehnica Timișoara. The new club 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. However, the ultras supporters rejected the move and decided to support an alternative project in the lower leagues, ASU Politehnica Timişoara.
Valentin Velcea continued as head coach, while the roster consisted mostly of the core ACS Recaș players and several players from FC Politehnica. At its conception, the club, established as an NGO, was primarily financed by the local authorities, as Timișoara mayor Nicolae Robu insisted control should not be forfeited to private investors. After initially playing in black/white/yellow kits, in order to avoid legal complications while the court ruled over the rightful owner following the bankruptcy of FC Politehnica, the club returned to its historic white-purple colors starting with the 2015–2016 season. As of February 2016, ACS Poli Timişoara is 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.
From a competitive perspective, the club failed to equal the achievements of the Marian Iancu era. A yo-yo-ing between the first two leagues, reminiscent of the Politehnica's travails in the 1980s, ensued. The situation was amplified by the fact that the financing received from the local authorities was deemed illegal in the summer of 2015, which left the club without its main financial benefactor. The highlight season for the new Poli came about in 2016–2017, when the club started with a 14 points penalty, as it failed to reach a points minimum the previous year and recorded unpaid debts. In spite of this, Poli, under the management of Ionuţ Popa, rallied to reach the relegation play-off in the dying minutes of the season and defeated rivals UTA Arad 5–2 on aggregate. Moreover, the club reached the first national cup final, finishing runner-up in the Cupa Ligii, while also reaching the semi-finals of the Romanian Cup.
The following season was another struggle and Poli suffered a reversal of fortunes as they were relegated by courtesy of a goal scored late in the last matchday. With financial pressures mounting, the club declared insolvency during the 2018–2019 Liga 2 season and struggled to stay competitive, becoming involved in another fight to avoid relegation. In order to mitigate costs, it was also forced to relocate from the Dan Păltinişanu stadium to the Electrica stadium.
Supporters and RivalriesEdit
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 and UM Timișoara 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.
- Liga I
- Liga II
First team squadEdit
- As of 12 July 2019
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loanEdit
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Board of directorsEdit
Current technical staffEdit
Shirt sponsors and manufacturersEdit
|Period||Kit manufacturer||Period||Shirt partner|
UEFA Champions League / European CupEdit
|2009–10||Third qualifying round||Ukraine||Shakhtar Donetsk||0–0||2 – 2||(a) 2 – 2|
|Play-off round||Germany||Stuttgart||0–2||0 – 0||0–2|
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup / European Cup Winners' CupEdit
|1980–81||First round||Scotland||Celtic||1–0||1 – 2||(a) 2 – 2|
|Second round||England||West Ham United||1–0||0 – 4||1–4|
|1981–82||Preliminary round||East Germany||1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig||2–0||0 – 5||2–5|
UEFA Europa League / UEFA CupEdit
|1978–79||First round||Hungary||MTK Hungária FC||2–0||1 – 2||3–2|
|Second round||Hungary||Budapest Honved FC||2–0||0 – 4||2–4|
|1990–91||First round||Spain||Atlético Madrid||2–0||0 – 1||2–1|
|Second round||Portugal||Sporting CP||2–0||0 – 7||2–7|
|1992–93||First round||Spain||Real Madrid||1–1||0 – 4||1–5|
|2008–09||First round||Serbia||Partizan||1–2||0 – 1||1–3|
|2009–10||Group stage (A)||Netherlands||Ajax||1–2||0 – 0||4th place|
|Croatia||Dinamo Zagreb||0–3||2 – 1|
|Belgium||Anderlecht||0–0||1 – 3|
|2010–11||Third qualifying round||Finland||MYPA||3–3||2 – 1||5–4|
|Play-off round||England||Manchester City||0–1||0 – 2||0–3|
|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|
- Valentin Velcea (Aug 15, 2012 – Oct 10, 2013)
- Aurel Șunda (Oct 10, 2013 – Mar 16, 2014)
- Dan Alexa (Mar 16, 2014 – Aug 21, 2015)
- Florin Marin (Aug 25, 2015 – Mar 21, 2016)
- Petre Grigoraș (Mar 25, 2016 – May 22, 2016)
- Ionuț Popa (May 24, 2016 – Feb 5, 2018)
- Leo Grozavu (Feb 6, 2018 – Apr 15, 2018)
- Adrian Neaga (Apr 16, 2018 – Jun 30, 2018)
- Ionel Ganea (Jul 1, 2018 – Aug 20, 2018)
- Ștefan Nanu (Aug 27, 2018 – Dec 13, 2018)
- Valeriu Răchită (Dec 13, 2018 – present)
Most capped playersEdit
Notable former playersEdit
- Competitive, professional matches only. Only pertains to 2012 onwards.
As of 1 March 2019
|2||Alin Șeroni||2012–2014; 2016–2018||102||10||2||114|
|5||Alexandru Popovici||2013–2017; 2018||94||10||1||105|
- Competitive, professional matches only. Appearances, including substitutes, appear in brackets. Only pertains to 2012 onwards.
As of 1 March 2019
|1||Szabolcs Szekely||2012–2015||18 (57)||2 (2)||0 (0)||20 (59)||0.34|
|2||Pedro Henrique||2014–2017||16 (40)||2 (3)||2 (2)||20 (45)||0.44|
|3||Octavian Drăghici||2016–2019||16 (64)||3 (8)||1 (1)||20 (73)||0.27|
|4||Cristian Bărbuț||2012–2017||13 (120)||1 (11)||1 (2)||15 (133)||0.11|
|5||Alexandru Popovici||2013–2017||12 (94)||2 (10)||0 (1)||14 (105)||0.13|
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