Sangju Sangmu FC, the reigning champion of the country’s second division football league, will take on Gangwon FC from the top tier competition this week in the first-ever relegation playoff in Korean professional football.
Sangju, the military club made up of players serving their mandatory time in the armed forces, earlier clinched the K League Challenge championship. Then last weekend, Gangwon FC finished 12th among 14 teams in the first-division K League Classic, avoiding automatic demotion to the second division for 2014 and setting up the inaugural relegation playoff with Sangju.
The winner of the two-leg contest will play in the K League Classic next year. Sangju will play the host of the first leg at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in Sangju, North Gyeongsang Province, about 270 kilometers south of Seoul.
Gangwon FC will be home for the second leg at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Gangneung, Gangwon Province, about 240 kilometers east of Seoul.
The K League Classic adopted the promotion-relegation system for the first time this year.
Of the 14 teams, the two worst clubs, Daegu FC and Daejeon Citizen, earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first victims of relegation.
Gangwon FC, with the third worst record, at least has a shot at remaining in the top competition.
Gangwon FC salvaged its season with a 3-0 victory against Gyeongnam FC in their final K League Classic match last Saturday, as forward Kim Dong-ki scored his first career hat trick. Though Sangju comes from the second division, the match will not be a cakewalk for Gangwon. (Yonhap News)