Gwangju becomes K-League’s first relegated club

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Gwangju becomes K-League’s first relegated club


Gwangju FC will be competing in the second division next season after a 2-0 loss at Daegu FC on Wednesday night, blowing a chance to stay in the K-League’s first division as the 2012 season comes to an end.

Its rival Gangwon FC is now four points ahead after a 1-0 win at Seongnam on the same day, putting the club out of reach for Gwangju and solidifying the bottom of the table.

Gwangju is one of two K-League teams to be relegated for the first time in the league history. The relegation system was introduced after the league decided to create a second division next year following a match-fixing scandal that rocked the organization from 2010-2011.

Gwangju, who finished 15th in the 16-strong league this season, will be relegated along with the Sangju Sangmu Phoenix, the team that has long suffered at the bottom of the table. The Phoenix have forfeited all of their 14 second-half matches, protesting the league’s decision to relegate the military-managed team due to its lack of organizational qualifications.

“I have become the coach of the first team to be relegated and I will take responsibility for that,” Gwangju head coach Choi Man-hee told reporters after the match.

Gwangju entered Wednesday’s game on 42 points from 42 matches, trailing Gangwon by one point. Two straight victories in the remaining two games would have given them a chance to get past Gangwon or even the 13th-place Daejeon Citizen, who were five points ahead.

The resolution for a win turned into desperation when Daegu midfielder In Joon-yeon put the host team on the scoreboard first in the 26th minute. Daegu defender Choi Ho-jung put the club’s future on ice with a 61st-minute goal.

Gwangju players and coaches were left to hope for a Gangwon loss or draw in a match that began 30 minutes after their kick-off, but Back Jong-hwan’s 43rd-minute goal was enough to seal the deal.

The K-League will automatically send 13th-place and 14th-place teams to the second division at the end of next season and maintain a top division of 12 teams beginning in 2014. The two best teams in the second division will swap positions with the two worst teams in the first division from 2014, according to a K-League official.

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

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