The Japan Football Association (JFA) on Tuesday proposed sweeping changes to the J-League schedule that would see the country's top flight change to a European-style Fall-Spring season.
The proposal, presented to a meeting of the J-League's executive committee by JFA managing director Kozo Tashima, would see the 2013 league calendar extended to 18 months, with a season beginning in March and ending in May before the 2014 World Cup. The following season would begin in the fall and last through May 2015.
"Scheduling next year's J-League will be difficult because of [June's] Confederations Cup and [July's] East Asian Football Championship, so this is simply one suggestion," said league managing director Yukio Nakano. "We'll have to decide on a course of action by this summer."
Supporters of the proposal say the new schedule would ease the burden on the national team as well as make it easier for Japanese players to go to Europe, while detractors cite falling attendance as well as difficulties faced by clubs in regions with heavy snowfall.
Former JFA chairman Motoaki Inukai was a strong proponent of the system during his tenure from 2008 to 2010, resulting in a prolonged war of words between him and then-league chairman Kenji Onitake. Despite continued support of the plan by current JFA chairman Junji Ogura, resistance has remained strong among J-League clubs as well as the player's association.
Representatives at the meeting objected to the effects an 18-month schedule would have on player and sponsor contracts, as well as the suddenness of the proposal. An extraordinary committee will be held at the end of May in order to consider the plan.