27 November 2008

Mito's Newest Rival Now More Official, Home Stadium Issues

On Tuesday, the governor of Tochigi prefecture met with a high ranking J. League official to confirm that public government funds will assure the club's solvency up to 50,000,000 yen and that the government will fund improvements of Tochigi SC's home stadium after joining the league.

It's this kind of guarantee that the league wants to hear in order to approve promotion... It's the lack of this guarantee that forced Mito to sit out of the first year of J2 despite qualifying.

Tochigi Green Stadium is soccer-specific and can hold over 15,000, but is visibly old, exposed to the elements, and half the spectator area is elevated grass seating. It is very similar to Mito's situation, where the city has a local stadium of dubious quality. Unlike Mito, which has the much better stadium of nearby Kasamatsu, the only other reasonable fields in Tochigi prefecture are in Tochigi city and Ashikaga city and both of those hold about 5000 people. Mito's home stadium reformation currently being undertaken is taking about a year and a half, but with Kasamatsu as the de facto home stadium for years this is not much of an issue for Mito fans. A similar amount of effort is certainly needed for Tochigi Green, which while great for viewing games, is little more than a glorified staircase of concrete slabs with two seating options: cheap plastic bench or grass. Should the J. League allow this home stadium to remain it will easily be considered the worst main stadium in the country. I have nothing to go on regarding this decision, but don't be surprised if Tochigi SC plays its first J. League season in a temporary home or in several different "home" stadiums. Could they play in Tochigi or Ashikaga? Perhaps Kanto's substitute stadium of choice, Kumagaya? Surprisingly, the stadium closest to Tochigi Green that satisfies all of the J. League requirements is Kasamatsu. Don't be surprised if any of these places host Tochigi SC home games in 2009. Make doubly sure of your away game preparations if you plan to head out.


Vendo Thefastlane said...

And checking a Tochigi SC fan's site, I see that a collection at their most recent home game brought in 200,000 yen to help support the team's bid to join the J. League. Mito was able to raise much more than that just to get the mascot costume cleaned up. Maybe Mito could pick up some expensive players if the management just think to ask the fans to pay a bit more.

Vendo Thefastlane said...

And today Tochigi's manager, the respected former J. League club leading Koichi Hashiratani, gave his resignation with no replacement specified. Cost cutting is abound and don't be surprised to see a weak first year... I expect that the team will fulfill the pro requirements as cheaply as possible.

Furtho said...

Really enjoying your Tochigi posts, Vendo. Is your friend still in the squad?

Also, did I infer correctly that you picked up some experience of wearing the Holly-kun costume?

Aaron said...

Your keeper made some terrible blunders in the YFC game! I was quite shocked!

Vendo Thefastlane said...

I've been corresponding with Koji Fukusawa who until last week was a semi-regular starter for Tochigi in 2008. On Saturday it was announced that he and 12 other players would not be on next year's roster, including a few key starters.

Looking at the data it seems that people who have been playing on a C-level contract or higher for some time have been cut. Purely on my speculation it seems that Tochigi is keeping the finances to the bare minimum and will likely pick up high school and college players with fresh C-level contracts that would not require an expensive upgrade during the 2009 season.

I invited Fukusawa to come to the Mito selection this month because I absolutely think he should be a pro player. I'm still waiting for a reply.

And what happens in the Holly-kun suit stays in the Holly-kun suit... We wouldn't want to upset the kiddies.