Yes, we're all bored stiff of the closed season and waiting for the fixtures to come out, so in the mean time, here's a follow-up of my post two years back. The original post was inspired, as the subtitle "Debunking the Urawa Myth" suggests, by a stunningly inaccurate soundbite by Daily Yomiuri journalist Shintaro Kano.
Mercifully, his piece, in which he stated the Saitama Reds to be the most successful team in the J. League, has since been removed from the Yomiuri pages it blighted. But in it's wake it left my article and the points system I contrived as a gauge to success in Japanese club football.
Two years have passed since then, so it's time for an update to include 09 and 10's trophy distribution. As before, the system is as follows:
League title - 3 Points
League runner's up - 1 Point
Cup win - 2 Points
Cup runner's up - .5 Points
Continental cups are counted, but show-piece super cups aren't. So without further ado, here's the rankings of the top performing clubs since the professionalisation of the game in 1992:
1) Kashima Antlers 37.5
2) Jubilo Iwata 23
3) Yokohama F. Marinos 18
4) Tokyo Verdy 18
5) Urawa Red Diamonds 15
6) Gamba Osaka 13
7) S-Pulse 10.5
8) Nagoya Grampus 9
9) Kawasaki Frontale 4.5
10) JEF United 4.5
11) FC Tokyo 4
--) Shonan Bellmare 4
After this, we're into the realm of one-time cup winners, as per Oita Trinita.
So the biggest change, apart from Kashima extending their already substantial lead at the top, is the jump of Nagoya to 9 points from 5.5 following their league win and Emperor's cup silver medal.
S-Pulse sneak an extra .5 after yet another cup final failure, and Gamba Osaka continue their accumulation of points to make up ground on the historic powerhouses of Iwata and Verdy. Of the current top ten, I'd reckon no more than four are likely to win the league title any time soon, so give it a few years and some of the former big guns may finally be challenged.
It's probably not even worth mentioning, but Japan's "most successful club" neither managed a top two finish or made any cup finals in the last two years (nor did they in 2008).
Purely in terms of titles won, the top five teams read as follows:
1) Kashima Antlers 14
2) Tokyo Verdy 7
-) Yokohama F. Marinos 7 (Not including titles won by Flügels)
-) Jubilo Iwata 7
5) Gamba Osaka 6
So there you have it. Kashima Antlers still head, shoulders, and most other body parts ahead of the rest. I can only imagine how much fun their fans have had over the years. The legacy of Verdy still casts a big shadow over most teams, and Yokohama's glory years were such that few others can yet match them. Jubilo Iwata, to the chagrin of all right thinking people, are still at the higher reaches of both tables. Credit where it's due, they've won a shit load of stuff in the past. They're still scum though, obviously.
Be sure to tune back in next year to see how the slowest league table in football progresses!
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