South Korea’s first-division football league announced Thursday it will adopt a “split format” in 2012 to prepare for a new promotion-relegation system the following season.
The K-League said its 16 teams will be split into two halves based on their records after 30 games each. The clubs will each play seven more games in their half of the division.
The bottom feeders in the lower half will be relegated to a second division the following year, but the K-League hasn’t determined how many teams will be relegated. The Scottish Premier League uses this system.
The regular season will have 44 games, up from 30 this year, without counting the postseason. But the K-League scrapped the K-League Cup competition, which has been held on weekdays over the course of the regular season and has mostly featured little-known backups as teams have chosen to rest their starters. That means the total number of games for most teams will be about the same next year.
“Since we will have the full promotion-relegation by 2013, we decided to adopt the split system for next year to determine who will be relegated,” said Ahn Gi-heon, secretary general of the K-League. “Clubs in the upper league will try to win, and those at the bottom will fight hard to avoid relegation. So teams will be playing hard right to the end.”