Fixtures

DateRHome vs Away-
05/22 06:00 14 Jubilo Iwata vs Consadole Sapporo View
05/25 10:00 15 Consadole Sapporo vs Kashiwa Reysol View
05/25 10:00 15 Kashima Antlers vs Sagan Tosu View
05/25 10:00 15 Kawasaki Frontale vs Shonan Bellmare View
05/25 10:00 15 Yokohama F-Marinos vs Kyoto Sanga FC View
05/25 10:00 15 Shimizu S-Pulse vs FC Tokyo View
05/25 10:00 15 Gamba Osaka vs Sanfrecce Hiroshima View
05/25 10:00 15 Cerezo Osaka vs Urawa Red Diamonds View
05/25 10:00 15 Vissel Kobe vs Jubilo Iwata View
05/25 10:30 15 Nagoya Grampus vs Avispa Fukuoka View
05/28 05:00 16 Sanfrecce Hiroshima vs Nagoya Grampus View
05/28 08:00 16 Avispa Fukuoka vs Urawa Red Diamonds View

Results

Date R Home vs Away -
05/21 10:00 14 [13] Avispa Fukuoka vs Yokohama F-Marinos [3] 1-0
05/21 08:00 14 [7] Sagan Tosu vs Kawasaki Frontale [1] 0-0
05/21 08:00 14 [15] Urawa Red Diamonds vs Kashima Antlers [2] 1-1
05/21 06:00 14 [18] Shonan Bellmare vs Vissel Kobe [17] 2-1
05/21 06:00 14 [7] FC Tokyo vs Kashiwa Reysol [4] 0-0
05/21 05:00 14 [8] Cerezo Osaka vs Gamba Osaka [10] 3-1
05/21 05:00 14 [16] Shimizu S-Pulse vs Nagoya Grampus [13] 1-2
05/21 04:00 14 [6] Sanfrecce Hiroshima vs Kyoto Sanga FC [9] 3-1
05/18 10:30 11 [16] Urawa Red Diamonds vs Yokohama F-Marinos [3] 3-3
05/18 10:00 11 [17] Vissel Kobe vs Kawasaki Frontale [2] 0-1
05/14 10:00 13 [4] Kashiwa Reysol vs Gamba Osaka [12] 0-1
05/14 07:00 13 [17] Shonan Bellmare vs Yokohama F-Marinos [3] 1-4

Wikipedia - J1 League

The J1 League (Japanese: J1リーグ, Hepburn: Jē-wan Rīgu), known as the Meiji Yasuda J1 League (Japanese: 明治安田生命J1リーグ) for sponsorship reasons, is the top level of the Japan Professional Football League (日本プロサッカーリーグ, Nihon Puro Sakkā Rīgu) system. Founded in 1992, it is one of the most successful leagues in Asian club football. Contested by 18 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the J2 League. Until the 2014 season, it was known as the J League Division 1.

History

Phases of J1

Before the professional league (1992 and earlier)

Before the inception of the J.League, the highest level of club football was the Japan Soccer League (JSL), which consisted of amateur clubs. Despite being well-attended during the boom of the late 1960s and early 1970s (when Japan's national team won the bronze Olympic medal at the 1968 games in Mexico), the JSL went into decline in the 1980s, in general line with the deteriorating situation worldwide. Fans were few, the grounds were not of the highest quality, and the Japanese national team was not on a par with the Asian powerhouses. To raise the level of play domestically, to attempt to garner more fans, and to strengthen the national team, the Japan Football Association (JFA) decided to form a professional league.

The professional association football league, J.League was formed in 1992, with eight clubs drawn from the JSL First Division, one from the Second Division, and the newly formed Shimizu S-Pulse. At the same time, JSL changed its name and became the former Japan Football League, a semi-professional league. Although the J.League did not officially launch until 1993, the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup competition was held between the ten clubs in 1992 to prepare for the inaugural season.

Inaugural season and J.League boom (1993–1995)

J.League officially kicked off its first season with ten clubs in early 1993.

After the boom (1996–1999)

Despite the success in the first three years, in early 1996 the league attendance declined rapidly. In 1997 the average attendance was 10,131, compared to more than 19,000 in 1994. Notably, Arsène Wenger managed Nagoya Grampus Eight during this period.

Change of infrastructure and game formats (1999–2004)

The league's management finally realized that they were heading in the wrong direction. In order to solve the problem, the management came out with two solutions.

First, they announced the J.League Hundred Year Vision, in which they aim to make 100 professional association football clubs in the nation of Japan by 2092, the hundredth season. The league also encouraged the clubs to promote football or non-football related sports and health activities, to acquire local sponsorships, and to build good relationship with their hometowns at the grass-root level. The league believed that this will allow the clubs to bond with their respective cities and towns and get support from local government, companies, and citizens. In other words, clubs will be able to rely on the locals, rather than major national sponsors.

Second, the infrastructure of the league was heavily changed in 1999. The league acquired nine clubs from the semi-professional JFL and one club from J.League to create a two division system. The top flight became the J.League Division 1 (J1) with 16 clubs while J.League Division 2 (J2) was launched with ten clubs in 1999. The former second-tier Japan Football League now became the third-tier Japan Football League.

Also, until 2004 (with the exception of 1996 season), the J1 season was divided into two. At the end of each full season, the champion from each half played a two-legged series to determine the overall season winner and runners-up. Júbilo Iwata in 2002, and Yokohama F. Marinos in 2003, won both "halves" of the respective seasons, thus eliminating the need for the playoff series. This was the part of the reason the league abolished the split-season system starting from 2005.

European League Format & AFC Champions League (2005–2008)

Since the 2005 season, J.League Division 1 consisted of 18 clubs (from 16 in 2004) and the season format became more similar to European club football. The number of relegated clubs also increased from 2 to 2.5, with the 3rd-to-last club going into a promotion/relegation playoff with the third-placed J2 club. Since then, other than minor adjustments, the top flight has stayed consistent.

Japanese teams did not treat the AFC Champions League seriously in the early years, in part due to the distances travelled and teams involved. However, in the 2008 Champions League, three Japanese sides made the quarter-finals.

However, in recent years, with the inclusion of the A-League in Eastern Asia, introduction to the Club World Cup, and increased marketability in the Asian continent, both the league and the clubs paid more attention to Asian competition. For example, Kawasaki Frontale built up a notable fan base in Hong Kong, owing to their participation in the Asian Champions League during the 2007 season. Continuous effort led to the success of Urawa Red Diamonds in 2007 and Gamba Osaka in 2008. Thanks to excellent league management and competitiveness in Asian competition, the AFC awarded J.League the highest league ranking and a total of four slots starting from the 2009 season. The league took this as an opportunity to sell TV broadcasting rights to foreign countries, especially in Asia.

Also starting from the 2008 season, the Emperor's Cup Winner was allowed to participate in the upcoming Champions League season, rather than waiting a whole year (i.e. 2005 Emperor's Cup winner, Tokyo Verdy, participated in the 2007 ACL season, instead of the 2006 season). In order to fix this one-year lag issue, the 2007 Emperor's Cup winner, Kashima Antlers' turn was waived. Nonetheless, Kashima Antlers ended up participating in the 2009 ACL season by winning the J.League title in the 2008 season.

Modern phase (2009–2016)

Three major changes were seen starting in the 2009 season. First, starting that season, four clubs entered the AFC Champions League. Secondly, the number of relegation slots increased to three. Finally, the AFC Player slot was implemented starting this season. Each club will be allowed to have a total of four foreign players; however, one slot is reserved for a player that derives from an AFC country other than Japan. Also, as a requirement of being a member of the Asian Football Confederation, in 2012 the J.League Club Licence became one criteria of whether a club was permitted to be promoted to a higher tier in professional level leagues. No major changes happened to J.League Division 1 as the number of clubs stayed at 18.

In 2015 the J.League Division 1 was renamed J1 League. Also, the tournament format was changed to a three-stage system. The season was split into first and second stages, followed by a third and final championship stage. The third stage was composed of three to five teams. The top point accumulator in each stage and the top three point accumulators for the overall season qualified. If both of the stage winners finished in the top three teams for the season, then only three teams qualified for the championship stage. These teams then took part in a championship playoff stage to decide the winner of the league trophy.

Current (2017–)

Despite the new multi-stage format being initially reported as locked in for five seasons, due to negative reaction from hardcore fans and failure to appeal to casual fans, after 2016 it was abandoned in favour of a return to a single-stage system. From 2017, the team which accumulates the most points will be named champion, with no championship stage taking place at the season's end, and from 2018, the bottom two clubs are relegated and the 16th-placed club enters a playoff with the J2 club that wins a promotion playoff series. If the J2 playoff winner prevails, the club is promoted, with the J1 club being relegated, otherwise the J1 club can retain its position in J1 League with the promotion failure of the J2 club.

In November 2017, Urawa Red Diamonds played the AFC Champions League final against Al Hilal. After a draw in the first leg, Urawa Red Diamonds won the second leg 1-0 and were crowned Asian Champions. In the past 10–15 years, Japanese clubs have risen not only continentally, but also internationally. Clubs Gamba Osaka and Urawa Red Diamonds have been crowned Asian champions and participated in the Club World Cup, always targeting at least the semi-finals. Kashima Antlers were finalists of the 2016 edition and eventually lost to Real Madrid.

Timeline

Year Important events No. J clubs No. ACL clubs Rel. slots
1989
  • JFA forms a professional league assessment committee.
1990
  • The committee decides the criteria for professional clubs
  • Fifteen to twenty clubs from Japan Soccer League applies for the professional league membership
1992
  • The professional league, J.League is formed with the following 10 clubs:
    • Gamba Osaka, JEF United Ichihara, Nagoya Grampus Eight, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Urawa Red Diamonds, Verdy Kawasaki, Yokohama Flügels, and Yokohama Marinos (pre-existing from the old JSL First Division)
    • Kashima Antlers (promoted from the old Second Division)
    • Shimizu S-Pulse (newly formed, non-company club).
  • Japan Soccer League becomes then second-tier Japan Football League
  • J.League hosts the first domestic league cup competition with the ten clubs
1993
  • The J.League officially kicks off its first season
10
1994
  • Following clubs are promoted from Japan Football League: Júbilo Iwata and Bellmare Hiratsuka
12
1995
  • Following clubs are promoted from Japan Football League: Cerezo Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol
  • The points system is introduced for the first time: a club receives 3 pts for any win, 1 pt for PK loss, and 0 pts for regulation or extra time loss.
14
1996
  • Following clubs are promoted from Japan Football League: Kyoto Purple Sanga and Avispa Fukuoka
  • The league adopts single season format
  • J.League average attendance hits the record low 10,131
16
1997
  • Following club is promoted from Japan Football League: Vissel Kobe
  • The league goes back to split-season format
  • The points system changes: a club receives 3 pts for a regulation win, 2 pts for extra-time win, 1 pt for PK win, and 0 pts for any loss.
17
1998
  • Following club is promoted from Japan Football League: Consadole Sapporo
  • Yokohama Flügels announce that they will be dissolved into crosstown rivals Yokohama Marinos for the 1999 season
  • The league announces the J.League Hundred Year Vision
  • The league announces incorporation of two-division system for the 1999 season
  • The league hosts J.League Promotion Tournament to decide to promote and/or relegate clubs. As a result, Consadole Sapporo becomes the first club be to relegated.
18
1999
  • Yokohama Marinos merge with Yokohama Flügels to become Yokohama F. Marinos
  • Penalty kick shootouts are abolished in both divisions; however, golden goal extra-time rules stayed
  • The points system changes: a club receives 3 pts for a regulation win, 2 pts for an extra time win, and 1 pt for a tie
  • Japan Football League (former) is also restructured, as it becomes the 3rd-tier Japan Football League.
Note: To distinguish between the former and the current JFL, the new JFL is pronounced Nihon Football League in Japanese.
16 2
2000 16 2
2001 16 2
2002 16 2 2
2003
  • Extra time is abolished in Division 1 and traditional 3–1–0 points system is adopted
16 2
2004
  • No automatic relegation this season, as the top flight expands to 18 clubs in the following season
  • Inception of the two-legged Promotion/Relegation Series
16 2 0.5
2005
  • J.League Division 1 expands to 18 clubs
  • J.League Division 1 adopts single-season format
18 2 2.5
2006
  • Away goals rule is adopted in Yamazaki Nabisco Cup and Promotion/Relegation Series
  • The league forms J.League expansion committee
  • The league reintroduces J.League Associate Membership
18 2 2.5
2007
  • J.League champion qualifies to the FIFA Club World Cup as the host for next two seasons.
Note: If a Japanese club wins the AFC Champions League, the host loses its right.
  • Urawa Red Diamonds wins the 2007 AFC Champions League, becoming the first Japanese club to win the AFC Champions League since its rebranding in 2002. Urawa wins the bronze medal at the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup, becoming the first Japanese club to do so.
18 2 2.5
2008
  • Gamba Osaka wins the 2008 AFC Champions League, the second straight championship by a Japanese club and wins the bronze medal at the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup, the second straight Japanese bronze medal at the competition.
18 2 + 1 2.5
2009
  • Four clubs enter AFC Champions League.
  • Implementation of a 4th foreign player slot, a.k.a. AFC player slot
  • Promotion/Relegation Series is eliminated and 16th-place club is now relegated by default.
18 4 3
2010 18 4 3
2011
  • J.League champion qualifies to the FIFA Club World Cup as the host for next two seasons again.
18 4 3
2012 18 4 3
2013 18 4 3
2014 18 4 3
2015
  • J.League reinstates split-season format for the next five seasons.
  • J.League champion qualifies to the FIFA Club World Cup as the host for the next two seasons again.
18 4 3
2016
  • J.League champion qualifies to the FIFA Club World Cup as the host.
  • Kashima Antlers reaches the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup Final becoming the first Asian club and only Japanese club to reach the Final, finishing with the silver medal.
18 4 3
2017
  • J.League reinstates single-season format after only two seasons.
  • Urawa Red Diamonds wins the 2017 AFC Champions League becoming the first Japanese club to win this competition twice.
18 4 3
2018
  • J.League implements entry playoff between 16th J1 club and J2 playoffs winner.
  • Kashima Antlers wins the 2018 AFC Champions League becoming only the third Japanese club to win this competition. Kashima goes on to finish 4th at 2018 FIFA Club World Cup, the best performance by a Japanese club in a FIFA World Cup held overseas outside of Japanese soil.
18 4 2.5
2019
  • J.League implements a new foreigners rule. J1, J2 and J3 clubs can recruit as many foreign players as they desire, but only 5 (J1) or 4 (J2 and J3) can be in the matchday squad. The "Asian slot" is removed. Players from certain J.League partner nations such as Thailand, Vietnam, etc. are not counted as foreigners.
18 4 2.5
2020
  • No relegation due to the COVID-19 pandemic
18 3 0
2021
  • League expansion to 20 clubs
20 3 4
2022
  • League contraction back to 18 clubs
18 3 2.5