The Dec. 12 editorial “A yellow card for J. League” seems oblivious to underlying facts. The decision by the Yomiuri conglomerate to finally cut its ties to Verdy has been coming for at least a decade, and it was just a question of when the other shoe would drop. The timing may be related to economic conditions, but the underlying problems were related to the sheer hubris and bureaucratic mind-set of the Verdy owners. Now that the team is in the hands of people who care about the club — rather than how much publicity it can generate for their company — Verdy and its fans are much better off.
As for Oita, this is a more legitimate concern, but hardly the first time a club has faced financial problems. Consadole, Ventforet and Yokohama FC have all gone through financial rebuilding in the past. I name these three clubs, rather than a half-dozen others that have had to restructure, because all three managed to earn a spot in the J1 following their financial crisis — proof that J. League does a good job of watching over its members and helping them get back on a solid footing.
The admission of new clubs to J. League is based on criteria that are extremely stringent in ensuring that the clubs have a solid financial base. Before promotion to J2, you need to achieve levels of financial backing and profitability that are easily better than that for the average Division 2 club in any European league. If no clubs can meet these criteria and thus demonstrate their ability to remain economically viable, then J. League won’t expand! Simple as that. If the editorial is correct about the severity of the current economic situation, then there is no reason to worry about expansion.
Most private blogs covering J. League do a better job of checking their facts. The Japan Times should be ashamed of having put its name to such a shallow piece of tripe.