Japan suspend relegation but keep promotion, expanding J1 to 20 teams for 2021

March 20 – Japan’s J.League, that was just one game and two days old before its season was suspended by the spread of coronavirus, has announced that there will be no relegation for the 2020 season from the top tier.

There will be promotion to the top division though, with two teams from J2 going up to expand J1 from 18 to 20 teams for the 2021 season.  Promotion and relegation in the second and third divisions will carry on as normal.

The decision was taken after a meeting between the J.League Extraordinary Executive Committee and all 56 clubs in the J.League.

In the 2021 season, four clubs will be relegated from the J1.

J.League Chairman Mitsuru Murai (pictured) said: “There are going to be a lot of obstacles in the way, and the competition may not be balanced or fair, but we want soccer to continue.

“There are areas with lots of infections and areas with none where kids are already going back to school,” he continued.

“Some teams may be able to play, and other teams might not be able to, disrupting the integrity of the competition.”

“Some teams might have to deal with several games behind closed doors on short notice. If we play during the Olympics or international match windows then teams may be without their national team players.

“Even if managers have to use players from their youth team (to fill the squad in the event that top-team players are quarantined), we want matches to be played.”

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