Major change in the air for K-League in 2013

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Major change in the air for K-League in 2013

The year of 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the K-League and the country’s top professional football league will put in place major changes that it hopes will make it the best league in Asia.

Here are some of the changes to pay attention to.

Implementation of the promotion system

The coming year is the inauguration of the two-tier divisions. Two bottom teams of the 16 K-League teams, Gwangju FC and Sangju Sangmu Phoenix, lost their qualification to stay with the league last year and will join the newly formed second division along with six other newcomers, Goyang Hi FC, Bucheon FC 1995, Suwon FC, FC Anyang, Chungju Hummel FC and Korean Police FC.

The eight teams in the second division will vie for a half berth for promotion to the first division. The winner of the second division will be promoted for the 2014 season if it wins a playoff against the third worst team of the first division at the end of this year.

The two worst teams in the first division, which are in 13th place and 14th place, will be automatically demoted to the second division as the K-League plans to run a 12-team first division beginning in 2014.

Compulsory inclusion of the U-23 players

This year, the K-League clubs will have to have at least one player 23 or younger on the roster for each of the season games. The compulsory rule was introduced to help nurture young talent by ensuring more playing time for young players, who are often overlooked for more experienced players.

Under the rule, that minimum number of U-23 players will be increased to two next year. In 2015, the teams will have to let at least one of the U-23 players on the pitch.

Each of the teams will also have to create another youth team for a younger age bracket, 10 or younger, beginning next year.

Expansion of the free recruitment system

The number of players that make a professional debut through the free recruitment system will rise from one for each team to two this year. It is part of the league’s multi-year plan to completely replace the current drafting system with the free recruitment system until 2016.

The drafting system, which has long been used by the K-League to recruit rookies, has been criticized for being too rigid and lacking incentives. Some young talents have opted to start their career overseas.

The drafting system set the cap on the first-year salary for a newbie at between 20 million won ($18,681) and 50 million won, and does not give a signing bonus, whereas the free recruitment system gives up to a 150 million won signing bonus with the first-year salary fixed at 36 million won. The free recruitment system also guarantees a five-year stint for the player with the team he signs a deal with. There is no such multi-year deal under the drafting system.

By Park Rin, Moon Gwang-lip []
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