• Kyodo News

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The Onward Oaks, a football team in Japan’s corporate-based X-League, said Thursday they will disband because of the deteriorating financial environment surrounding their sponsor.

Apparel group Onward Holdings Co. has decided to pull out of the league amid a deepening economic crisis after solely extending financial support to the Oaks in the 2008 season. Restaurant chain Skylark Co. had been a joint sponsor for seven years before withdrawing its support in March.

The Oaks, winners of the 2006 Rice Bowl national championships, are powerhouses in the top flight of the X-League that has six teams each in the East, Central and West divisions. The team finished atop the East standings this year before losing in the semifinal round of the six-team playoffs.

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