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E-Land Group’s goal a big one: Top team in Asia

Fashion conglomerate officially applies to start new football club

Apr 15,2014
Park Sung-kyung, vice chairwoman of E-Land Group, hands the group’s declaration letter to Korea Professional Football Federation chief Kwon Oh-gap during a press conference yesterday in Jongno District, central Seoul. [NEWSIS]
Fashion and retail conglomerate E-Land Group has officially declared its intent to establish a professional football club, saying the ultimate goal is to be the No. 1 team in Asia.

In a press conference yesterday at the headquarters of the Korea Professional Football Federation in Jongno District, central Seoul, Park Sung-kyung, vice chairwoman of the group, handed a declaration letter to Kwon Oh-gap, chief of the federation, and presented a series of projects that the group will carry out.

With a project titled Vision 2020, E-Land said it will develop the team to be the best in Asia and as good as Bundesliga’s Borussia Dortmund of Germany, with fans around the world. E-Land Group hopes to move to the K-League Classic in two years (by 2016) and to win the K-League Classic and the Asia Champions League title by 2020.

The team to be established by the fashion conglomerate will be the first since the Suwon Samsung Bluewings in 1995. It will start in the K-League Challenge, the minor league of the K-League Classic, next year. The winner of the K-League Challenge automatically joins the classic league, and the runner-up must beat the 11th place K-Classic team in order to advance.

E-Land officials said they hope K-League Challenge games average an attendance of 10,000.

“As a conglomerate, there are many ways to contribute to society,” said Park Sung-kyung of E-Land. “And we decided to establish a football club that people can enjoy watching. It is important to develop a winning team, but our first goal is to be the most popular team in the league by providing entertainment that fans were not able to have in the past.

“We have been studying the sports business for a long time, and we are very pleased that we have taken the first step into the business. We will try to learn many things from existing clubs to develop a competitive team.”

E-Land owns more than 250 retail brands and had revenues of about 10 trillion won ($9.6 billion) last year from branches in more than 10 nations, including China and the United States. In December 2012, the group tried to acquire the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The group also said there will be a large investment. “Since we want to join the K-League Classic in two years, we will try to acquire competitive coaching staffs and players to realize the plan,” said Park Sang-kyun, the club president. “There are many options for the head coach post and we are currently reviewing at least seven people.” Park added that the club is also considering hiring a big-name foreign coach with European league experience.

“We know that the expectation [of acquiring big-name players and coaching staffs] is high among fans who have seen Diego Forlan of Uruguay playing in Japan and Italian coach Marcello Lippi leading the Guangzhou Evergrande of China,” said Kim Tae-wan, of the team establishment and planning department. “But I think the first task is not pursuing such superstars, especially in the beginning. For now, we can say that importing big stars will be an option in the future.”

E-Land is expected to spend more than 20 billion won in the next two years. The new football team will be based in Seoul, a city with a population of more than 10 million and only one football club - FC Seoul.

BY kwon sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]





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