Police football club’s recruitment halt to shake up K League 2 playoffs

September 21, 2018

SEOUL, Sept. 21 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s pro football office will not allow the police football club’s promotion to the first division or participation in the promotion playoffs unless they come up with a recruitment plan for the next season, officials said Friday.

Asan Mugunghwa FC, a club in the second-tier K League 2, are on the verge of disbandment after they were told there will be no player recruitment for the next season.

Mugunghwa were founded in 1996 with the purpose of helping footballers stay in the game while fulfilling their mandatory military duties. The players who join Mugunghwa are auxiliary police, who complete their national duty as police officers after finishing basic military training.

In order to compete in the K League, a team must have at least 20 players. But without new recruiting, Mugunghwa will fall short of that number. They currently have 26 players on the roster, but 12 of them will be discharged in February.

“Although it will be decided at the board meeting, it’s likely that the league will not grant Mugunghwa’s promotion to the K League 1 or competing in the playoff even if they are qualified,” a K League official said. “Unless Mugunghwa unveil their recruitment plan until the final day of the K League 2 regular season, we’ll have to understand that they don’t have intention to compete in the league. In this case, we’ll need to allow the next best team behind Mugunghwa to inherit their privileges.”

This undated photo provided by the K League shows Asan Mugunghwa FC players. (Yonhap)

This undated photo provided by the K League shows Asan Mugunghwa FC players. (Yonhap)

Mugunghwa are currently ranked second in the 10-team K League 2 with eight matches remaining. They have the same 51 points as Seongnam FC but sit in second place due to fewer goals scored.

The winner of the K League 2 directly advances to the K League 1, while the runner-up has to go through a playoffs to earn promotion. The second-placed team in the K League 2 will first have to face the winners between third and fourth place and then take on the 11th ranked team in the K League 1 for promotion.

Despite a troubling atmosphere, the players and coaches at Mugunghwa FC said they’ll fight until the last minute to win the K League 2.

“We know that the atmosphere isn’t great, but we have to play better in situations like this,” Mugunghwa head coach Park Dong-hyuk said. “We have to win the league for our fans who support us.”

This undated photo provided by the K League shows Asan Mugunghwa FC players. (Yonhap)

This undated photo provided by the K League shows Asan Mugunghwa FC players. (Yonhap)

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