The Japan Table Tennis Association’s board approved Saturday a plan to establish a new league for professional and amateur players with an eye to launch it in the fall of 2018.
The initial concept was to make the proposed T-League professional in the future, but as corporate teams objected to the idea, the framework was changed to include a mixture of pros and amateurs from corporate, club and school teams, officials said.
An integrated organization for running the new league will be set up next March, the association’s board decided at its meeting in Tokyo.
“As a measure to spread and strengthen (the sport) in Japan, it is better not to dwell on turning it professional,” Ichiro Hoshino, an executive of the association, said.
The league is envisioned to have a top-flight division and a second-tier division as well as regional divisions below them. The first division is expected to have six to eight squads each for men and women, which will play about 20 team matches per year in home-and-away format.
Outstanding issues that need to be addressed include what kind of relations the new league should have with the existing corporate Japan Table Tennis League.
Koji Matsushita, who compiled the concept as head of a preparatory office for establishing a professional league, said the number of players to be registered on each team is expected to be around six to eight, with annual operating costs expected to be about ¥100 million to ¥150 million ($870,000 to $1.3 million).
Placing emphasis on closeness with local communities, the new league will call on J. League soccer clubs to launch new teams in their respective regions and consider cooperating with B. League men’s basketball teams such as sharing home venues, Matsushita said.