(Kamatamare Sanuki fall to a 3-0 defeat at home to FC Machida Zelvia in their 2011 Japan Football League match on 20 November 2011. Newly promoted Kamatamare ended the season in a respectable eleventh place, while Zelvia were promoted to J.League Division 2. Kamatamare may enter professional competition in 2013, having started the 2012 campaign with five wins in a row)
The third tier of Japanese football has been in progress for several weeks, and from this point on I’ll be taking stock of the Japan Football League after every five matches up to week 30, when updates will be provided on a weekly basis until the season ends on Matchday 32. The Japan Football League in 2012 consists of seventeen teams, after Arte Takasaki was excluded from participating in this season’s competition owing to a number of financial problems.
Promotion to J.League Division 2 for the teams finishing in the top two places is not guaranteed, but instead a number of criteria including league position must be satisfied. These include becoming an Associate Member of the J.League, the most significant of which are the financial standards a club must meet, and a home stadium of a minimum capacity of 10,000. At this stage, only two clubs currently playing in the Japan Football League have been granted Associate Membership, league leaders Kamatamare Sanuki and V. Varen Nagasaki, while Zweigen Kanazawa and FC Ryukyu have seen their applications deemed requiring further improvement.
If one or two of the champions and runner-up do not have Associate Member status, the clubs finishing in third or fourth place are provided with the opportunity of being promoted above them. This was the case in the 2011 season, when the company club Sagawa Shiga FC, whose structure fails to meet a further condition of entry to the J.League, finished as champions, while runners-up AC Nagano Parceiro were not promoted owing to their stadium being too small. Indeed, Parceiro had to watch as Shinshu derby rivals Matsumoto Yamaga, who ended the season in fourth place, entered the professional ranks instead.
While the 2012 JFL is just five weeks old, Kamatamare Sanuki have started strongly, holding the only 100% record across the top three divisions, scoring thirteen goals and conceding just two in the process. The Takamatsu-based outfit have a long history in Kagawa Prefecture, having been founded in 1956, and are one of the oldest clubs currently competing in Japanese football. Having only been promoted to the JFL in 2011, a season in which they finished a respectable eleventh after emerging victorious from the All Japan Regional Football Promotion League Series the year before, promotion to the full professional format for the 2013 campaign would be an enormous achievement for the side managed by former Kyoto Sanga player Makoto Kitano.
|2||MIO Biwako Shiga||5||1||1||0||5||3||3||0||0||8||1||+9||13|
|4||AC Nagano Parceiro||4||2||1||0||10||1||1||0||0||2||1||+10||10|
|7||Sagawa Printing SC||5||1||0||0||4||1||2||0||2||2||5||+0||9|
|9||Sagawa Shiga FC||4||1||0||1||3||5||1||1||0||4||2||+0||7|
|11||Yokogawa Musashino FC||5||1||0||1||2||2||1||0||2||3||8||-5||6|
|12||Sony Sendai FC||5||1||1||1||1||1||0||1||1||1||3||-2||5|
|14||Hoyo AC Elan Oita||5||0||0||2||1||5||0||2||1||1||2||-5||2|
|16||Tochigi Uva FC||5||0||1||2||0||6||0||0||2||3||8||-11||1|
|17||Honda Lock SC||5||0||0||4||4||10||0||0||1||0||1||-7||0|