The news struck like a bolt of lightning. The Gdynia Seahawks, one of the cornerstone clubs in Poland’s American football community and winners of three Polish championships, have shut down their operations.
The club made the announcement after the players reportedly refused to play for the current management. The head coach then issued his own statement.
In other words, the situation is a mess. And there are more questions than answers. It seems that Agata Lipińska was acting as president but without the authority to sign for the club. According to unconfirmed reports, that authority was never handed over to her.
The former president and head coach who helped build the club, Maciej Cetnerowski, states that he resigned last August. He has had nothing to do with the club since then.
Apparently, the board does have full control of the bank accounts.
The board also told the players and coaches in November 2019 that there were no financial issues. And still, nothing happened organizationally.
Players started departing, some through retirement and others moving to different clubs. The players that remained continued to train but with growing misgivings, it seems.
The situation came to a head in the last couple of weeks and now with the departure of key players and a total lack of youth players to move up, those players who had been holding out hope, have quit.
(All the statements given below have been translated from Polish as accurately as possible from the originals.)
The club issued the following statement:
“We regret to inform you that Seahawks Gdynia players on 8 February 2020 informed the club’s representatives about resignation from participation in the LFA1 games in the 2020 season organized by the American Football League for organizational and sporting reasons. We regret this turn of events and we are sorry that we will not play the 15th season on Polish fields. Today, i.e. 10/02/2020, we are starting to reorganize the activities of the Association. We will inform you about further steps. Thank you to all players and everyone involved in the development and construction of American football in Poland. Thank you to everyone who devoted their free time and energy to activities in our club for these 14 years. Special thanks are also given to our current Partners, Sponsors and Donors. It was thanks to your generosity and favor that we were able to function.
We hope that in the near future we will have the opportunity to meet on football fields.”
The Seahawks players who have remained, have issued their own statement, basically refusing to play:
“On February 4, 2020 at the National Rugby Stadium in Gdynia a meeting of players and the coaching staff with the Board of the Association of the Pomeranian American Football Club was held regarding the participation of the Seahawks Gdynia team in the 2020 League of American Football During the meeting, issues were raised that ultimately prevent Seahawks Gdynia from participating in this year’s LFA1 games.
In autumn 2019, Maciej Cetnerowski withdrew from the Seahawks Gdynia club. At the meeting with the coaching staff and players, it was assured that in the near future a new person would be elected president of the Association of the Pomeranian American Football Club. To this day, the function of the president is still held by Mr Maciej Cetnerowski, and the only person authorized to represent in matters related to the Association is Mr Krzysztof Lipski. Agata Lipińska, who was presented to the team in November as the President of the Club despite the most sincere intentions and titanic work put into preparation for the season, was not able to effectively manage the club without formal authorization or access to documentation and a club account.
In November 2019, a coaching staff and players were assured that the Club had the financial resources to enter the LFA1 games in the next season and did not have any obligations regarding the previous season towards any entities. However, over the past weeks, it has turned out that the Club has such obligations and has not yet settled them. In addition, it became apparent that the Club did not have signed contracts with sponsors, and despite repeated admonitions from the facility administrator, it did not have a signed contract for the use of the training facility. Training at the National Rugby Stadium, starting from December 2019, has taken place only thanks to the good will of the Gdynia Sports Center. In January 2020 the club was to sign contracts with the head coach as well as with two foreign players, who were to start training in Gdynia on February 3, 2020. The deadline for signing these contracts has been postponed many times and they have not been signed to date. So, 8 weeks before the inauguration of the 2020 season, the team has no offensive playmaker and coordinator, and thus no offensive system or financial guarantees.
In view of the club’s helplessness in organizational matters, ambiguities regarding finances, as well as subsequent unfulfilled promises, in January this year. a large part of experienced players previously declaring appearances in the 2020 season in the colors of Seahawks Gdynia did not enter training. At the same time, several players decided to stop training and change club colors. As a result of these situations, the composition of the team was seriously weakened and does not meet the regulatory requirements regarding the number of players registered for the LFA1 games and matches.
The coaching staff and players participating in the training to this day, being more and more aware about the organizational situation and the financial condition of the Club from week to week, have not stopped preparations for the upcoming season. Unfortunately, the situation in which they are currently placed leaves no doubt that the Seahawks Gdynia Club, despite the assurances of the Management Board, is not ready to join the LFA1 games in the 2020 season, and the credit trust they have placed in the Club authorities has run out.
Seahawks Gdynia players .”
The Seahawks head coach Daniel Piechnik, as well as Lipińska, issued their own statements bemoaning the situation and regretting that it has come to this.
No one can state clearly what has happened. So the question remains.
Why has the club collapsed?