Relegation or Obliteration for 2013?

Just a short opinion piece of something that is playing on my mind the last couple of months. It is a bit of a ramble and a rant but something I feel needs to be said.

As we are on the brink of the start of the 2012 K-league season the talk of most people that follow the game is the establishment of two divisions next season and the relegation of the 2 teams (one which will automatically be Sangju Sangmu) that will take place.

While this is all very well and good the make-up of this second division continues to be a complete mystery to most followers. The KFA continues to make noises but nothing substantial has been established and a grand total of ZERO teams have come forward with interest in joining this K2-League from next season. All we know at the moment is that it will be made up of 2 current K-league teams plus some teams that hopefully will come from the N-League, be they teams that finish in the top 4 or 4 random teams that financially can afford the leap from semi-professional to professional status.

With only a year out from the start of the 2013 season which will be the first where games in 2 separate divisions will take place, at the moment there is a guaranteed (and even that is looking shaky) 2 teams that will play each other next season. Sangju vs. Gangwon or Daejeon perhaps. A whole season of this would be a disgrace to the league but it is what the KFA deserves after bungling with the issue for years and years trying to grab exhorbitant league fees from new teams (Goyang Kookmin and Mipo) who had no interest in being in the K-League in the first place. Now apparently this fee has been greatly reduced (and will ultimately be eliminated) but the damage has already been done. The KFA seem to be making up the rules as they go along hoping everything is OK at the end.

So the way I see it two scenarios will play out.

1. The way hopefully the KFA wants it to go. The bottom 2 teams will drop down and 4 teams will step up from the N-league to form a 6 team K2-League. No teams will complain and everybody will be happy. This seems highly unlikely based on past history.

2. The K-league team that is relegated will refuse to go down and/or the N-league teams will refuse to promote. I can see that the K-League team that ends up in the relegation position is not going to go quietly. Already the bottom citizen teams complained loudly that there were initially 4 relegation spots and it is likely going to be a citizen club (Gangwon, Daejeon or Daegu) who is relegated. These are mostly funded by the local government and with a bit of sponsorship from private enterprise. What would be the incentive for them to run a club in the second division when the KFA initially promised them K-league football. When the KFA refuses to allow them to play in the K-league it won’t just be relegation but obliteration for the team… will close down.

This problem on top of this is also the fact there is little incentive for current N-League teams to promote to the K2-league. Most will struggle to promote in the first few seasons if at all so why would any companies who currently sponsor lower level football decide to pour a lot more money in for zero difference. It basically is still the same division, the second tier after all. The whole situation feels forced and last minute and not the proper way to run a football league.

Even if the KFA, by some miracle get 2 divisions happening it is extremely top heavy still. 14 teams in the K-League and 6 teams in the K2 League. How will they go about rectifying the imbalance to get it even. It is going to take many years for this to be sorted out without some extremely strong leadership from the KFA which in the past few seasons has been in extremely short supply. I fear that this is going to have a devastating effect on the whole Korean league, in all divisions with teams being banned, closed or left out in the cold.

I think what we are about to see is not just relegation, but for some teams obliteration. I hope I am wrong and we, the teams, the players and the fans have a thriving tow division league but I am firmly in the sceptic camp. Good luck KFA, you are going to need it.

7 Responses to “Relegation or Obliteration for 2013?”
  1. mustoe02 says:

    Much as I like to be optimistic, we’re twelve months away from (supposedly) the big two-tiered kick off…at what point are we and the KFA supposed to start worrying? Maybe if one or two teams sign up for the new league a few more will join in, but again, I fear that is my optimism talking. In no time we’ll be six months away and unless the KFA have a lot up their sleeves and they’re doing a great job of not letting on, there’s seemingly little movement going on. Pretty soon things will need to start being planned properly, it’s a joke that we can even have this conversation.

    Instead of merely dropping entrance fees (which only applies to current N-Leaguers and can hardly pursuade potential newly formed teams to get on board) they need to incentivise the whole thing massively to give teams the impression that far from doubting their ability to afford entering the new system, they need to feel as though they can’t afford not to. Maybe that’s a bit cut-throat and Charlie would disagree, but I think most people would agree that a proper working system of promotion and relegation would be a huge help to Korean football.

    As for the citizen teams going down, it’s a but too sad to think about it.

    • mattyhannah says:

      I think what may ultimately happen is there instead of 4 new N-League teams promoting(perhaps 1 or 2 will) the KFA will just establish new teams. There are markets that are big enough to sustain a K-league or K2-League team such as Goyang (with its stadium), Cheongju, Cheonan, or perhaps one of the other satellite cities Bundang, Ilsan or perhaps Anyang. Gangnueng as well has a pretty long footballing tradition and Gangwon FC get good numbers when they play there.

      However if this is to happen things need to start moving now. The KFA can’t wait until the second half of the season and hope things work out for the best. It never ends well.

  2. Andyroo says:

    I don’t understand why being in the K2 league has to be so expensive.

    They should try and set it up so it costs the same as being in the national league.

    • mattyhannah says:

      I suppose it doesn’t have to be but once agin…what is the point of entering the K2 League if you are going to be uncompetitive compared to other teams. You will need to start hiring (better) foreigners and also as the Korean players, once the convert to full professional will expect to be on better wages as well. The KFA has a rule for a minimum wage which I am sure is a lot more than what N-League players are paying now.

      • Andyroo says:

        There are plenty of teams in the K league who have no chance of winning it, it’s not like we are going to see a citizen club finish first any time soon.
        Sell it as a chance at giving local youth a chance and don’t expect too much from K2 too soon.

        Make it the same cost as having a National league team at first so that the clubs aren’t scared to sign up. Then after they get a taste of the hunt for promotion they will hopefully become more ambitious on their own.
        I think the KFA is going to have to bend on quite a few rules but they seem petrified of losing their precious license fee. It wasn’t that long ago the English Conference was a mix of semi pro and full time pro and it worked ok.

  3. mattyhannah says:

    Looks like I might have jumped the gun a little too quickly with apparently 5 teams interested in joing the K2 League set-up next season, Suwon City, Cheonan City, Ulsan Mipo Dockyard, Hallelujah and Chungju Hummel. I always suspected Ulsan might be the most likely one and would probably involve a move to Seoul. Cheonan was always a likely destination and Hallelujah haven’t named a location yet and perhaps are waiting for someone to woo them. The two problem teams could be Suwon City (is Suwon big enough for 2 teams) and Chungju Hummel (Chungju is much too small) but Hummel apparently are pretty set there.

    • Andyroo says:

      Suwon derby would be cool though, there are some pretty big cities that don’t support one team. Sometimes a smaller city that actually has a culture of going to games can support more teams. I guess it gives people more to talk about and generates a bit of a buzz.

      If Cheonan get in they would become the closest professional team to me 🙂

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