Korona Kielce, Polish pronunciation: [kɔˈrɔna ˈkʲɛltsɛ], (Korona – Crown – symbol of club and city, Kielce – name of city where club is based) is a Polish football club, currently playing in the Ekstraklasa. In the years 2002–08 Club belonged to Polish holding company Kolporter Holding and achieved its greatest success – in 2005, winning promotion to the first division (Ekstraklasa). Since then Korona has spent 5 seasons in Polish soccer top level. In 2006–07 season Korona played in the final of the Polish Cup. As a result of alleged corruption after 2007–08 season Club was relegated to I liga. After a one-year banishment Korona returned to the Ekstraklasa.
|Full name||Korona Kielce|
|Founded||10 July 1973|
|Ground||Stadion Miejski Kielce |
The club was founded in 1973 after the union of two clubs from Kielce – Iskra Kielce and SHL. The new club got its first promotion to the Polish 2nd league in 1975. Unfortunately, the team did not play very well and was soon relegated. The next promotion was in 1982. Korona played in the 2nd league until 1990 when it was once again relegated. 1996 brought several changes. Nida Gips from Gacki became the new sponsor and the club's name changed to Miejski Klub Sportowy Sekcja Futbolowa Korona. During the 1998–99 season Korona again played in the 2nd league but dropped down at the end of the season. In 2000 Korona merged with another club from Kielce – Błękitni Kielce and was renamed to Kielecki Klub Piłkarski Korona.
In 2002, the golden era for Korona had begun. Kolporter became the new sponsor, Krzysztof Klicki the new chairman, and the club's name changed to Kielecki Klub Piłkarski Kolporter Korona. In 2003, the team was again renamed, this time to Sportowa Spólka Akcyjna Kolporter Korona. The goal was simple – to be the best Polish football team. The dream started to become reality in 2005 when Korona won the 2nd league and for the first time in the club's history was promoted to the Polish premier league.
Korona's first match in the Ekstraklasa was against Cracovia and the final score was 0–0. Korona ended the 2005–06 season fifth in the league table. Prior to the 2006–07 season, at a meeting with supporters, the chairman announced that club would revert to its historical coat of arms. Korona's second season in the Ekstraklasa started off strongly with an away win against Arka Gdynia (3–0). 20 September 2006 was a significant one in Korona's history. After an away victory against Odra Wodzisław Śląski, the club climbed to the top of the league table for the first time in its history although it ended the 2006–07 season in 7th place. Its third and final season in the top division was 2007–08, placing 6th but being relegated as a result of alleged corruption. In August 2008 Klicki sold the club to the city of Kielce for a nominal fee.
On 14 July 2009, Korona Kielce was promoted to the Ekstraklasa.
In response to Korona's successes and the club owner, Krzysztof Klicki's, affirmation that the club would play in the premier league and battle for European cups, Kielce municipal authorities approved the construction of a new stadium. Unfortunately, the stadium turned out to be much too small. Because of this the club played its first round in the highest division at its old stadium (currently used by reserves and youth teams) to permit further work on the new facility.
Only eighteen months after the start of the building project, the keys of the new stadium were officially handed to the club. The first premier league match was played on 1 April 2006 against Zagłębie Lubin.
The Korona stadium, although it stands on the same site as an earlier stadium, is an entirely new facility, built according to UEFA recommendations and modern design ideas. In this way it differs from most other football stadiums in Poland which were built during the communist era or earlier and only slightly modernized to meet basic UEFA standards.
Kielce stadium can seat 15,550 fans, however, due to Polish regulations, which require a buffer zone between local fans and the visitors section, league matches can only accommodate 13,823 Korona fans and 777 visiting fans. However, on one occasion the stadium was full to capacity during a league match. This occurred during the 2006–07 season when fans of visiting club Legia Warszawa were prohibited from entering due to the vast number of their 'red brigade' supporters who made the trip down to watch their club in Kielce.
Pitch dimensions are 105 x 68 m, and the entire surface is heated. Automatic sprinklers water the pitch in between match days. Kielce stadium has a complete system of monitoring, which could serve as a model for other Polish stadiums. Korona's stadium is also considered by the Polish Football Association for international games.
Since 2006, when the club moved to the most modern stadium in Poland, it often had among the best attendance statistics in the Polish league, although these numbers have declined since the club's relegation at the end of the 2007–08 season.
A new club crest was introduced in 2002, featuring a redesigned coat of arms. However, many fans were disappointed by the removal of the beloved black crown from the emblem.
Before season 2006–07 in a team meeting with supporters the chairmans announced that the club returns to the historical coat of arms. Thanks to the fans and good will of the chairman Korona again has the crown in her coat of arms.
Supporters of Korona are some of the most enthusiastic in the Ekstraklasa and have received many awards for their artistic match 'frames'. In the spring round of 2006–07, Korona Kielce fans were awarded 5 times in 8 matches for their superb 'frames'.
Korona supporters' tireless cheering for their team often helps their team to victories. The most faithful fans are seated in the "Młyn" – "the Mill" – which contains 500 – 2,000 people.
On 14 June 2006, the Stowarzyszenie Kibiców Korony Kielce "Złocisto-Krwiści" (Korona Kielce Supporters Association "Golden-Bloody") was officially registered at a Kielce court. Official appointing of Korona Kielce fans had become a fact. This association brings together representatives of various Korona supporters groups.
The association is a partner for the Club and many institutions, which it wants to cooperate with. The fans are invaluable in the creation of memorable football events, and the association has an important role in increasing fan input on football life in Korona. The most important role of the association however is to improve the quality of support.
The association also organizes special trains and coaches for fans for away matches. It also organizes events promoting the Club such as "Golden-bloody stadium in Kielce", "Small toy – children's benefit" (fans donated toys to an orphanage), "Action Banner" (a lot of flags and banners were sewed). In short, the association has introduced a new supporting style at Korona matches which will attract even more fans to the stadium on Ściegiennego street.
Majority shareholder of the club is former German international footballer Dieter Burdenski. In April 2017, he acquired 72% of the club shares while the remaining 28% are in hands of the city of Kielce. Burdenski's son Fabian was subsequently signed by the club in June 2017.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
The following players played for the club and also received senior international caps:
- "Korona Kielce".
- "Korona w Ekstraklasie" (in Polish). www.90minut.pl. 14 July 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2009.
- "Ex-Keeper Burdenski kauft sich bei Korona Kielce ein" (in German). weser-kurier.de. 11 April 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
- "Korona Kielce". Football squads. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
- "Korona Kielce" (in Polish). Retrieved 27 July 2018.