South Korea

Tiers – K League, N League

Cup Competitions – FA Cup, League Cup,

Other Competitions – Super Cup

South Korean domestic football is among the strongest in Asia with a number of team owned and financed by major Korean Chaebols (companies such as Hyundai, Samsung and Daewoo) and since the 2002 World Cup football has only grown in popularity and strength.  A number of clubs (or at least those in the K League) play at stadia left over from the World Cup whilst in the N League most clubs play in stadia that resemble an XXXL shirt being worn by an anorexic, so you are unlikely to see much in the way off stadium development. Money is in the K League is plentiful by Asian standards, however in the N League it is a different story and you will need to be wise in you financial management, but as long as you are sensible again you should be ok.

K League
South Korea’s top division is made up of 14 teams who play each other twice over a period over 26 games. Three points are awarded for a win and one for a draw, teams level on points are then sorted by goal difference and if still level goals scored. Similar to leagues in much of South America, the league is spilt into an opening and closing stage with every team playing each other once in each stage. The winners of the two stages are granted a place in the play-offs at the end of the season. Two other teams qualify from the playoffs at the end of the season as well. The other two teams are the two highest placed teams (that aren’t opening or closing champions) over the course of the season. The two semi-final winners contest the K League final of which the winners are crowned K League champions. The season runs from mid March to mid May for the opening stage and mid August to late November for the closing stage. The bottom club over the course of both stages is relegated to the N League, however this only happens from the 2007 season onwards.

Squad rules make sure that the leagues makeup is predominantly Korean squads restricted to three foreign players and foreign goalkeepers are not allowed at all. Match day rules are the same and the bench must have at least one goalkeeper on it. Six subs may be named and up to three can be used. The transfer window opens in early-mid December about a month after the season ends and runs until the end of July.

Compared to other league disciplinary rules are quite strict with three yellow card resulting in a one match ban and another one match ban for every two additional yellow cards. A red card is a one match ban and straight reds are a two match ban.

N League
The second tier in South Korean, the N League is a pre-dominantly semi-professional league made up of eleven teams who play each other twice over twenty games. Again it is spilt into two stages with each team playing each once in each stage. The winner of each stage qualifies for an end of season playoff in which the winners win promotion to the K League. However promotion only happens from the 2007 season onwards. In the event of the same team winning each stage the team that finishes second overall qualifies for the playoff. Three points are awarded for a win and one for a draw, if teams are still level goal difference and then goals scored are used to separate teams. The league runs from early April to mid November, with a the opening stage finishing early July and the closing stage starting in late August.

Squad rules are slightly different to the K League. Like the K League teams may only have three foreign players in their match squads. Nine subs can be named and up to four can be used, unlike the K League the bench doesn’t have to contain any keepers.

Disciplinary rules are the same as the K League.

FA Cup
The Korean FA Cup is knock-out cup competition, in the mould of the FA Cup, a total of 40 clubs take part over six rounds. The first round is contested by fifteen university teams plus one N League team. The remaining ten N League teams and all fourteen K League teams enter the competition in the second round. All games must be finished on the day so if scores are level extra-time and if needed penalties are used. The lower ranked team always plays at home.

Match-day squads may contain no more than three foreign players. Seven substitutes may be named and up to three can be used. Disciplinary rules are the same as K and N league rules.

League Cup

The Korean League Cup takes place between mid May and early August during the break between the K League’s opening and closing stages. The competition is open only to K League clubs. It is run on a league format rather than a cup format. All fourteen K League teams take part playing each other once so each team plays thirteen games. The normal three and one points are given for a win and draw respectively. The League sorting rules are slightly different to those in the K League with teams level on points being sorted by games won first and then goal difference, goals scored and finally if teams are still level the result between the two teams is used.

Disciplinary rules are the same as those in the K League.

Super Cup
The Super Cup is South Korea’s version of the Community Shield. Like the Community Shield it takes place at the beginning of the season between the previous seasons league champions and FA Cup winners. Should the same team win both the K League and FA Cup, the loser of the K League final plays the double winners. If necessary extra-time and a penalty shoot-out will be used to decide the winners.

The squad may have no more than three foreign players. Seven subs can be named of which up to three can be used.

Source: Ben O’Bagels