KBO board eases stance on expansion to 10 teams

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KBO board eases stance on expansion to 10 teams

Coming under growing pressure from the public and players, KBO teams said yesterday they will revisit the issue of adding another team.

Last month, they said they would not add a 10th team until conditions are right.

In response, players have threatened to boycott the July 21 All-Star Game and the remainder of the regular season.

The change in stance came at yesterday’s regular board of directors’ meeting of the Korea Baseball Organization. Presidents of eight reams - Lee Jang-seok of the Nexen Heroes was absent - were joined by KBO Commissioner Koo Bon-neung and Secretary General Yang Hae-young.

The team presidents agreed to authorize the KBO staff to determine whether to resume discussions about the possible expansion to 10 teams, according to KBO officials.

“That means that if we put up a proposal for additional discussion of the issue, the teams will gather to discuss it,” said an official of the KBO.

According to observers, other progress was made at yesterday’s closed-door meeting toward the resumption of talks about adding a 10th team.

“I can’t reveal everything that was discussed today, but it is something that we can bring to the negotiating table with the players’ association,” KBO Secretary General Yang told reporters.

Yang said he will meet with the players as soon as possible to try to resolve the boycott issue ahead of the imminent July All-Star Game.

The KBO announced the results of fan voting for 20 players on Sunday. An additional 24 players chosen by the All-Star managers will be announced today.

Under current regulations, players who are selected as All-Stars but refuse to play are subject to a 10-game suspension at the start of the second half of the season.

The KBO has said it will have no other choice but to apply the regulation, but the Professional Baseball Players’ Association said two weeks ago that it would respond to any suspensions by boycotting all games for the rest of the season, raising tensions between players and league to their highest level in the 31-year history of the KBO.

The existing teams are opposed to adding a 10th, citing a lack of amateur talent from which to draw. But the athletes contend that a 10th team should have anticipated after the approval of a ninth team, NC Soft, in May.

An odd number of teams would significantly disrupt scheduling, according to the players. Adding another team would increase the interest of the younger generations in baseball and encourage more to play, they say.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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