Decentralization policy in K League

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This article is regarding the K League policy of professional football clubs compulsory[1][2] relocation from Seoul to other cities by K League and South Korean Government.[3][4]


By 1995, there have been three professional football clubs based in Seoul: Ilhwa Chunma, LG Cheetahs and Yukong Elephants. Korea Professional Football League wanted to spread football popularity nationally and secure football-specific stadiums for bidding of 2002 FIFA World Cup. In order to achieve this goal, Korea Professional Football League and Blue House[5][6] forced all three clubs in Seoul to move to other cities. The intention was to compensate for the decreased number of home cities under the new system.[7]

This was not proceeded smoothly with the affected clubs.[8] K League offered them a condition that they can move back to Seoul. If a club among them build a football-specific stadium in Seoul, the club will get the priority to return to Seoul. Then all three clubs agreed to move.[9]

Relocation details[edit]

This policy brought resistances from each clubs. In October 1995, Yukong threatened K League that they will dissolve the club if they have to move out of Seoul.[10]

In November 1995, K League announced that if the clubs don't accept the decision, they will be excluded from the K League.[11] Once the plan was announced,[12] many city governments hoped to attract these clubs.[9]

Yukong Elephants[edit]

Yukong Elephants took the city of Bucheon's offer of a new 20,000-seater Bucheon Stadium with another football-specific stadium facilitated two training fields.

The club decided to use Seoul Mokdong Stadium as their temporary home ground until the construction of Bucheon Stadium to be completed. The club changed its name to Bucheon Yukong as a part of the policy on January 4, 1996.[9]

Ilhwa Chunma[edit]

For Ilhwa Chunma, the city of Cheonan offered a deal for the club. The City of Cheonan promised the club that the 1.2 billion KRW refubishment of Cheonan Oryong Stadium into a football-specific stadium with another sports complex in Baekseok-dong, Cheonan, to be built by 2001. The club accepted the offer, moved to Cheonan[13] and changed its name to Cheonan Ilhwa Chunma as a part of the policy on 29 March 1996.[9]

LG Cheetahs[edit]

LG Cheetahs was the last franchise that moved out from Seoul.[14] The club was regarding to move to Changwon as well, but decided to move to Anyang due to the popularity of soccer in the region and the local characteristics.[14] Also the club changed its name to Anyang LG Cheetahs as a part of the policy on 26 April 1996.[9]


From 1996, K League started Complete Home and Away system (Single City) as a result.[7]

After the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Korea Football Association needed to pay Seoul Metropolitan Government 25 billion KRW as their share of the construction of Seoul World Cup Stadium.[15] KFA wanted to find a new club in Seoul and let the club to pay the whole share, but it didn't happen.[16] Seoul Metropolitan Government understood that potential investment on a new Seoul club had not made due to the amount of the share, they agreed to cut 10 billion KRW in the way of sponsoring the new team with the same amount of money.[17] Also, KFA agreed to pay 10 billion KRW of their share to reduce the burden to a new Seoul club, leaving only 5 billion KRW to pay.[17]

In the meantime, Anyang LG Cheetahs declared their interest in moving to Seoul and Seoul Metropolitan Government welcomed it, though KFA prioritized the foundation of a new club.[18]

But many candidate companies (including KT Corporation and Kumho Asiana Group), which received proposal from KFA and K League, refused to found a new Seoul-based club.[citation needed]

On 6 February 2004, K League committee officially allowed the existing K League club's move to Seoul and sent relocation proposal to all K League clubs.[19] Korea Football Association declared that if an existing club wants to move to Seoul, they need to pay 15 billion won, due to the KFA's 10 billion KRW offer was only under the condition of foundation of a new club.[20]

11 February 2004, Busan I'Cons declared their interest in being a new Seoul club.[21]

A few days later, KFA cut the share to pay to a half, 7.5 billion KRW, with a prospect of a new Seoul club in future to pay the other half.[22]

On 10 March 2004, Busan I'Cons officially retreated their interest and Anyang LG Cheetahs declared to be the new Seoul football club.[23]


  1. ^ "스카이박스 - 축구와 야구의 차이, 그리고 연고의식" (in Korean). XSPORTS NEWS. March 16, 2009. 
  2. ^ "서울 연고 이랜드프로축구단 출범…FC서울과 '투톱'" (in Korean). Korea Economic Daily. May 1, 2014. 
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  9. ^ a b c d e K League 30th Anniversary. Seoul, South Korea: K League. 2013. p. 178. ISBN 978-89-963178-4-5. 
  10. ^ "줏대없는 프로연맹 이사회" (in Korean). Sport Seoul. October 22, 1995. 
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  12. ^ "The Sports Business in The Pacific Rim: Economics and Policy". 
  13. ^ "FIFA Classic Football Clubs - Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma". 
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  23. ^ "프로축구 부산, 연고지 잔류..LG 서울 입성" (in Korean). Retrieved 2017-03-03.