Sunday's J. League Awards should have been an opportunity for the league and its promotional team to take a victory lap after a 2019 season that shattered attendance records and drew unprecedented interest from overseas.

Instead, it demonstrated a stunning lapse in the league's understanding of who its audience is and how the league has built its following over the last 27 seasons.

The first-division campaign, which ended with Yokohama F. Marinos winning their fourth title and first in 15 years, saw an average per-game crowd of 20,751 — the first time the J1 has broken the 20,000 barrier.