J.League to launch Division 3

Having previously noted on 9 November 2012 that discussions regarding a third professional tier of the J.League were set to commence before the end of the year, the Daily Yomiuri reports that the J.League is set to launch Division 3 in 2014.

In its inaugural season the number of participating teams is expected to be between ten and twelve, with a minimum stadium capacity requirement of just 3,000, compared to the 10,000 necessary required in J.League Division 2. While the 10,000 capacity stadia criteria in Division 2 makes little sense on the basis that average crowds across the division totalled just over 5,800, with only three teams nearer or above the 10,000 mark over the course of the 2012 season, the substantially smaller figure for the lower league should provide an easier standard of entry into the professional game for a number of teams currently residing in the JFL and the regional leagues.

There is no news at the present time as to how teams still owned and operated directly by parent companies will be affected, such as Honda FC, and where their future lies within the Japanese football league pyramid if they cannot or will not professionalise. Honda FC in particular made a deliberate decision to revert to fully amateur status having once been a J.League Associate Member, Honda Motor’s board assessing the environment and believing pursuing motor sport opportunities in the context of its main business to be the preferred option. It can only be hoped therefore that, despite the progress made by the J.League and the likely benefits that a third professional division will bring to the domestic and national game, one of the JFL’s stalwart members will be afforded sufficient consideration by the JFA in the event that it doesn’t garner the minimum level of support necessary from its fans and owners to become one of the third tier’s initial professional teams.

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Japan Football League: Matchday Fifteen Table

(AC Nagano Parceiro fans celebrate the Kenichi Nozawa goal that gave them a 1-0 victory over league leaders V-Varen Nagasaki at the Nagano Minami Sports Park Stadium. Viva remain at the top of the Japan Football League, but saw their lead cut to two points following Kamatamare Sanuki’s 3-0 away to Yokogawa Musashino)

Home Away
Team P W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 V-Varen Nagasaki 14 4 2 0 10 2 5 0 3 11 5 +14 29
2 Kamatamare Sanuki 14 3 1 2 8 4 5 2 1 13 4 +13 27
3 Yokohama SCC 14 4 0 2 16 7 4 2 2 15 12 +12 26
4 AC Nagano Parceiro 13 6 2 1 19 5 2 0 2 4 7 +11 26
5 Blaublitz Akita 14 2 4 1 9 8 5 0 2 10 6 +5 25
6 Sagawa Printing SC 14 4 2 1 9 4 3 2 2 7 9 +3 25
7 MIO Biwako Shiga 14 1 3 2 10 12 6 0 2 23 8 +13 24
8 FC Ryukyu 15 6 0 2 20 12 1 2 4 8 17 -1 23
9 Sony Sendai FC 14 3 4 1 5 2 2 3 1 10 8 +5 22
10 Sagawa Shiga FC 14 3 0 3 12 9 3 3 2 10 8 +5 21
11 Honda FC 14 5 0 3 14 6 1 2 3 6 10 +4 20
12 Zweigen Kanazawa 14 1 2 5 4 8 2 2 2 9 10 -5 13
13 Yokogawa Musashino FC 14 1 1 4 5 10 2 3 3 8 13 -10 13
14 Fujieda MYFC 14 1 2 3 6 12 2 1 5 5 13 -14 12
15 Hoyo AC Elan Oita 14 0 2 4 4 17 2 3 3 7 9 -15 11
16 Honda Lock SC 15 1 0 7 7 18 1 1 5 6 14 -19 7
17 Tochigi Uva FC 13 1 2 5 8 19 0 1 4 3 13 -21 6

Japan Football League: Matchday Twelve Table

(Highlights from the Japan Football League Matchday Ten fixture between Kamatamare Sanuki and Sagawa Shiga FC. The crowd at the Kagawa General Sports Park went home disappointed as the visitors won 1-0)

J.League Associate Members Kamatamare Sanuki and V-Varen Nagasaki sit in the top two places in the Japan Football League with a third of the matches in the third tier of Japanese football completed. Clubs currently in the lower ranks of J.League Division 2 may start to view this with alarm, as if both Kamatamare and V-Varen remain in these positions at the end of the JFL season, the champions would benefit from automatic promotion to the professional game, while the runners-up would paticipate in a play-off with the team finishing second from bottom for the right to play professional football.

Home Away
Team P W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Kamatamare Sanuki 12 3 1 2 8 4 4 1 1 10 4 +10 23
2 V-Varen Nagasaki 11 2 2 0 4 2 5 0 2 11 4 +9 23
3 Sagawa Printing SC 12 4 1 1 8 3 3 1 2 4 6 +3 23
4 AC Nagano Parceiro 10 5 1 1 16 3 2 0 1 4 3 +14 22
5 FC Ryukyu 12 6 0 1 17 8 1 1 3 7 13 +3 22
6 MIO Biwako Shiga 11 1 3 1 10 11 4 0 2 16 7 +8 18
7 Blaublitz Akita 11 2 3 1 6 5 3 0 2 5 6 +0 18
8 Yokohama SCC 11 2 0 2 10 6 3 2 2 11 9 +6 17
9 Honda FC 11 4 0 3 10 6 1 2 1 6 4 +6 17
10 Sony Sendai FC 11 3 2 1 4 1 1 3 1 6 6 +3 17
11 Sagawa Shiga FC 11 2 0 2 6 6 2 3 2 9 8 +1 15
12 Zweigen Kanazawa 11 1 2 3 3 4 2 1 2 7 8 -2 12
13 Yokogawa Musashino FC 11 1 1 2 4 5 2 2 3 7 12 -6 12
14 Hoyo AC Elan Oita 11 0 2 2 4 8 2 3 2 7 5 -2 11
15 Tochigi Uva FC 11 1 2 4 6 15 0 1 3 3 11 -17 6
16 Fujieda MYFC 11 0 2 3 3 12 1 1 4 2 11 -18 6
17 Honda Lock SC 12 0 0 7 6 18 0 1 4 2 8 -18 1

Japan Football League: Matchday Five Table and Update

(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.

Home Away
Team P W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Kamatamare Sanuki 5 2 0 0 5 1 3 0 0 8 1 +11 15
2 MIO Biwako Shiga 5 1 1 0 5 3 3 0 0 8 1 +9 13
3 Blaublitz Akita 5 2 0 0 2 0 2 0 1 3 2 +3 12
4 AC Nagano Parceiro 4 2 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 2 1 +10 10
5 Yokohama SCC 5 1 0 1 5 3 2 0 1 7 4 +5 9
6 V-Varen Nagasaki 4 2 0 0 3 1 1 0 1 1 1 +2 9
7 Sagawa Printing SC 5 1 0 0 4 1 2 0 2 2 5 +0 9
8 FC Ryukyu 5 2 0 1 8 3 0 1 1 3 6 +2 7
9 Sagawa Shiga FC 4 1 0 1 3 5 1 1 0 4 2 +0 7
10 Honda FC 4 2 0 1 3 1 0 0 1 0 1 +1 6
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
13 Zweigen Kanazawa 4 0 0 2 1 3 1 0 1 3 4 -3 3
14 Hoyo AC Elan Oita 5 0 0 2 1 5 0 2 1 1 2 -5 2
15 Fujieda MYFC 5 0 1 1 2 4 0 0 3 1 9 -10 1
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

Japan Football League promotion changes agreed

The J.League and Japan Football League have agreed the changes to be implemented for the purposes of promotion from and relegation to the Japan Football League. The second tier of the J.League will feature twenty-two clubs for the first time in 2012. Subject to the prospective promoted clubs holding the requisite J.League Associate Membership and gaining formal approval for a J.League Licence, the team finishing bottom in Division Two will automatically be relegated and replaced by the JFL champions, with the club in 21st place required to compete against the JFL runner-up in a two-legged play-off.

The Daily Round-Up

The Daily Yomiuri covers the Japan Football League, confirming that Arte Takasaki have withdrawn from the competition owing to the club’s insolvency. The tournament will proceed with a reduced number of teams, commencing on 17 March 2012.

The Daily Mainichi offers the story that Hublot, the official FIFA timekeeper, is producing a limited edition watch of just 100 pieces commemorating the Nadeshiko’s victory in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. All proceeds of the sales will be donated to the Kids Earth Fund, a non-profit organisation which works worldwide to help children who are suffering from conflict, warm, poverty or disasters, including in the Tohoku region affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

J.League Division Two outfit FC Gifu will host a six-day training camp in Taiwan in February, followed by a further seven-day training camp in Miyazaki.The Daily Asahi confirms. FC Gifu have welcomed a new coach and twelve new players to the club, following a disastrous season in which they finished bottom of the division.

Finally, Nippon Sports dedicates some of its coverage to Yuto Nagatomo, the Samurai Blue left-back currently playing for Internazionale in Italy’s Serie A. The 25 year-old starred in Inter’s 1-0 victory in the Milan derby played on 15 January.

The Hublot Big Bang FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 Winners watch (100 only). All proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Kids Earth Fund (KEF).