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Monday, 27 September 2010

Fans United Japan? Verdy in Need!

BarryBarry writes:

Who were the winners of the first two J. League seasons and runners up in the third? Who made off with the first three Nabisco Cups and the 1996 Emperor's Cup? Kashima? Gamba? Marinos? No, no and no.

You won't find the answer in J1, as they're currently in J2 playing in front of (if they're lucky) 4000 fans, 21000 less than they were used to in the 90s. Arise Tokyo Verdy. The well documented problems at the Ajonomoto Stadium go back several years, but things are coming to a head. The club needs a buyer, or may go to the wall.

November 14th has been selected at the culmination of the Save Our Verdy campaign with the aim of demonstrating to potential buyers that there is a future for the greens. Central to this is getting more than 4000 people into the cavernous Ajinomoto Stadium.

Nerdy over on his namesake website is spreading the word, and for me, as someone who has nearly seen his own local club wound up, this is something pretty close to home. Part of the campaign to help save Brighton was a Fans United day in 1997 where supporters from all other teams were invited to The Goldstone to show their support. The result was a packed stadium, a huge amount of publicity, and renewed momentum to the campaign which ultimately saw the Albion under new owners and (after a few years) even winning things.

I'd love to see something like this happen for Verdy in November. Yes, we're all rivals, but where would you be in a league by yourself? And no supporters should be deprived of their team. Maybe the locals need to be reminded of what they stand to lose, and some would-be buyer companies certainly need to be shown how positive a thing a well run football team can be - as a business and as a corner stone of the local community.

The destruction of Yokohama Flügels was nothing short of a disgrace, being dissolved from under the fans' feet before they were given a chance of securing a new future. As Yokohama FC proved, there's no reason they couldn't have done so, and Verdy are no different. They have a future given the chance.

So if you're in Tokyo on November 14th, or even if you're not, get yourself down the Ajinomoto - swell the gate and sing up for Verdy! Sod's law being what it is, S-Pulse have a game that day, but I'm tempted to make the trip to the capital to show my support. Even if I don't make it, I'm 100% behind any campaign to make sure Japan doesn't lose another team.

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