Vegalta Sendai will transfer ownership of its women’s side to sponsor Mynavi, the J. League club announced Monday, in a decision intended to protect the future of both teams in the wake of the economic impact of the coronavirus.
In a statement, Vegalta cited a steep drop in expected revenue due to the coronavirus, which caused the J. League to suspend its season for four months and has forced clubs to play in front of significantly reduced crowds in an effort to prevent infections.
Mynavi Vegalta Sendai Ladies, which will become known as Mynavi Sendai Ladies from Feb. 1, has applied to join the WE League, Japan’s new professional women’s soccer league that is scheduled to launch in September 2021. The team currently competes in the Nadeshiko League’s first division.
“Women’s soccer is taking the first step toward a new stage with the opening of the WE League in 2021,” Vegalta president Shuitsu Kikuchi said. “(This transfer) has happened because of Vegalta’s financial situation, and withdrawing from our role in guiding the future of the team was not our original intent.
“After a long series of discussions with the team’s title partner Mynavi, we believe they will continue to show Ladies the enthusiasm and affection we have given the club over the years.”
Vegalta Ladies’ history extends back to 2012, when Vegalta took over TEPCO Mareeze, the Fukushima-based club that ceased activities in the wake of the nuclear disaster at the energy company’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant on March 11, 2011.
The newly formed club finished first in the 2012 Nadeshiko Challenge League and has since competed in the top flight, finishing as high as runner-up in the 2015 playoff stage. Mynavi, which offers job recruitment and staffing services, became the team’s title partner in 2017.
“As we approach the critical turning point of the WE League’s opening, we have embraced a vision of bringing the team to even greater heights,” Mynavi president Nobuyuki Nakagawa said. “Should we be accepted into the WE League, we want to help ‘professional women’s soccer player’ become known as a new career choice for female athletes.
“We hope to inherit Vegalta’s principles of contributing to the region’s activity and development, and will aim to become a team beloved by everyone in Sendai.”