J. League Associate Membership

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J. League Associate Membership Jei Rīgu Junkaiin (Jリーグ準会員?) is a status given to Japanese non-league football clubs. The applicant must have an intention to become a professional club and to join the professional league, J. League, governed in the top two levels of the Japanese football pyramid. Usually clubs from the fourth level, Japan Football League, which is the top tier for amateur clubs, apply for the membership; however, in the past clubs in the lower levels have applied for the membership. The applications are reviewed and inspected by a committee formed by the league. Since 2007 season, the Associate Membership is one of the main criteria for J3 promotion. This system allows the League to identify the such clubs, to provide necessary resources/advices, and to ease the transition to the professionalism.

Former System[edit]


Originally, when the professional league formed in 1993 with ten clubs, the league's intention was to keep the number of clubs to 10 for at least two to three years, and then gradually increase the roster to 16 by adding a club or two in year-to-year basis. However, the league had underestimated the demands; there were far more clubs seeking top-flight football then the league have anticipated. Thus, the league adopted associate membership system for the clubs in then the second-tier Japan Football League. Just like the current system, associate clubs finishing top two were allowed to be promoted to the league, given that they have passed the final inspection by the league. Associate members also had right to participate in Yamazaki Nabisco Cup games and reserve league games.

Year Applied Club Name Year Admitted
to J. League
1993 Bellmare Hiratsuka 1994 Promoted to J. League
Júbilo Iwata 1994 Promoted to J. League
Kashiwa Reysol 1995 Promoted to J. League
1994 Cerezo Osaka 1995 Promoted to J. League
Kyoto Purple Sanga 1996 Promoted to J. League
Tosu Futures 1999 (J2) Taken over by Sagan Tosu, not promoted to Division 1 until 2012
1995 Avispa Fukuoka 1996 Promoted to J. League
Vissel Kobe 1997 Promoted to J. League
1996 Consadole Sapporo 1998 Promoted to J. League
Brummell Sendai 1999 (J2) Not promoted to Division 1 until 2002
1997 Kawasaki Frontale 1999 (J2) Not promoted to Division 1 until 2000
Honda Motor Later withdrew the membership due to lack of support from company and community


The current system was adopted in order to provide an incentive for clubs in the JFL to have a sound economical and business basis for promotion to J2. With the number of J2 clubs having reached 22 (the original target) for the 2012 season, it is expected that Associate Membership would be granted to clubs relegated from J2, barring their not fulfilling economic criteria to warrant it.

Future System (2014—)[edit]

The system of associated membership is likely to be revised after establishment of J. League Division 3 (J3) in 2014, when all the current associate members are expected to be moved to J3. The associate membership will be still in place for lower tier clubs that have intentions for future J. League participation.

Criteria for Membership[edit]

Club Organization
  • Must be entity or organization solely devoted to football
    • Company and university clubs do not qualify
    • At least half of the shares of stock must be Japanese ownership
  • Must have feasible financial status
(Note: The league recommends ¥ 1.5 million of capital by J2 promotion and 5 million by end of the third J2 year.)
  • Must secure sponsorships of ¥ 1 million
  • Must hire at least three administrative employees, one of whom must have managerial position
  • Must have proper payroll system according to Japanese Law
  • Must complete tax audit annually
Home Stadium/Training Facility
  • Home stadium must be located in the proposed hometown
  • Have plans to build/reconstruct stadium with capacity of 10,000 and natural grass pitch for future promotion, if they are not having one.
  • Must have a press box and a conference room for pre- and post-match news conferences in the stadium
  • Must secure training facilit(ies) within the proposed hometown
Home Town
  • Must be approved by respective Prefectural Football Association
  • Must be approved by the hometown government in writing
  • Must currently play in JFL, Regional Divisions, or Prefectural Divisions
  • Must desire eventual participation of J.League
  • Must have plans for a youth system

To promote to the J3, they should also meet the following requirements(though, they will lost Associate Membership once they joined J3)

  • Must be a current J.League Associate Member
  • Must have J3 standard Stadium (capacity 5,000 or above)
  • Must have 3 players with pro A contract (see: J. League contracts)
  • Must have a manager with JFA S License
  • Must have a youth team
  • Should have a certain level of achievement in their current regional league, if they are not already in JFL


  • Required for J3 promotion
  • The league committee will provide resources to assist the club to attain J3 participation
  • The right to label the club as a "J. League Associate Member". However, this does not allow the use of J. League logos, which would be considered copyright infringement until they participated J.League.

J. League Associate Members[edit]

This table summarizes the history of associate membership applications and promotions.

  • Green – promoted to J. League Division 2 (before 2013)
  • Light green – admitted to J. League Division 3 (after 2013)
  • Blue – relegated from J. League
  • Gold – current members
  • Grey – membership declined
  • White – planning to apply/awaiting for approval
Date Applied Club Name League Home Town Membership Year Promoted Notes
August 2006 Rosso Kumamoto JFL Kumamoto, Kumamoto Approved 2007 Renamed to Roasso Kumamoto upon promotion to J2.
Tochigi SC JFL Utsunomiya, Tochigi Declined Reapplied in January 2007
January 2007 FC Gifu JFL Gifu, Gifu Approved 2007 Conditionally approved initially. Financial improvement required before promotion to J2.
Gainare Tottori JFL All cities/towns in Tottori Approved 2010
Tochigi SC JFL Utsunomiya, Tochigi Approved 2008
Perada Fukushima Tohoku League D2 Fukushima, Fukushima Declined Renamed to Fukushima United F.C. Reapplied in June 2013
July 2007 Fagiano Okayama Chugoku League All cities/towns in Okayama Approved 2008 First Regional league club to be approved
January 2008 New Wave Kitakyushu JFL Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Approved 2009 Renamed to Giravanz Kitakyushu before promotion to J2
Kataller Toyama JFL Toyama, Toyama Approved 2008
FC Ryukyu JFL All cities/towns in Okinawa Declined Reapplied in January 2011
January 2009 Machida Zelvia JFL Machida, Tokyo Approved 2011 Relegated to JFL in 2012, re-admitted to J3 in 2013
V-Varen Nagasaki JFL All cities/towns in Nagasaki Approved 2012
January 2010 Matsumoto Yamaga JFL Matsumoto, Nagano Approved 2011
SC Sagamihara Kanagawa prefectural league D1 Sagamihara, Kanagawa Approved 2013 First Prefectural league club to be approved
April 2010 Zweigen Kanazawa JFL Kanazawa, Ishikawa Not accepted Incomplete documentation. Reapplied in January 2011
December 2010 Kamatamare Sanuki JFL All cities/towns in Kagawa Approved 2013
January 2011 FC Ryukyu JFL All cities/towns in Okinawa Declined Further improvement needed. Reapplied in June 2013
Zweigen Kanazawa JFL Kanazawa, Ishikawa Declined Further improvement needed. Reapplied in November 2012
November 2011 Nagano Parceiro JFL Nagano, Nagano Approved 2013
November 2012 Zweigen Kanazawa JFL All cities/towns in Ishikawa Approved 2013
Blaublitz Akita JFL All cities/towns in Akita Approved 2013
June 2013 Veertien Kuwana Mie prefectural league D2 Kuwana, Mie Not accepted Incomplete documentation
YSCC JFL Yokohama, Kanagawa Approved 2013
Grulla Morioka Tohoku League D1 Morioka, Iwate Approved 2013
Renofa Yamaguchi Chūgoku League All cities/towns in Yamaguchi Approved
Fukushima United JFL Fukushima, Fukushima Approved 2013
FC Ryukyu JFL All cities/towns in Okinawa Approved 2013
Fujieda MYFC JFL Fujieda, Shizuoka Approved 2013
Vanraure Hachinohe Tohoku League D1 Hachinohe, Aomori Approved
Tonan Maebashi Kantō League Maebashi, Gunma Approved
Azul Claro Numazu Tōkai League Numazu, Shizuoka Approved
Nara Club Kansai League D1 Nara, Nara Approved
MIO Biwako Shiga JFL Kusatsu, Shiga Pending
Tochigi Uva JFL Tochigi, Tochigi Pending
Suzuka Rampole Tōkai League Suzuka, Mie Pending

This indicates the participated league at the time of application, not necessary the league that the club currently belongs to.

Current members
Past members

See also[edit]


External links[edit]