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SBD Global/January 3, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

K-League Sees Changes With New Year Including Two-Tier Division Debut

The year '13 marks the 30th anniversary of South Korea's professional football league, the K-League, which is looking to "put in place major changes," such as the inauguration of a two-tier division, according to Park & Moon of the KOREA JOONGANG DAILY. Two bottom teams of the 16 K-League teams, Gwangju FC and Sangju Sangmu Phoenix, lost their qualification to stay with the league last year and will join the newly-formed second division along with six other newcomers, Goyang Hi FC, Bucheon FC 1995, Suwon FC, FC Anyang, Chungju Hummel FC and Korean Police FC. K-League clubs will have to have at least one player 23 or younger on the roster for each of the season games. Additionally, the number of players that make a professional debut through the free recruitment system will rise from one for each team to two this year. It is part of the league’s multi-year plan "to completely replace the current drafting system with the free recruitment system until '16." The drafting system, which has long been used by the K-League to recruit rookies, "has been criticized for being too rigid and lacking incentives," leading some young talents to choose "to start their career overseas" (KOREA JOONGANG DAILY, 1/1). YONHAP's Yoo Jee-ho noted the 13th and 14th ranked teams, or the two worst clubs, in the first division in '13 will be "automatically relegated to the second division for '14." Then, the No. 12 team from the first division and the No. 1 seed from the second division "will collide in a playoff for a spot in the first division." The new format means "up to three clubs from the first division can be sent down to the lower tier" each year. The K-League said, "Much like in European leagues, second-division teams can earn a promotion. We think this will be a great source of motivation for the second division teams" (YONHAP, 12/31).
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