J League: Why is Sagan Tosu not relegated? Management crisis and team strength

J League

Speaking of Sagan Tosu, it is not a powerful club that is blessed with financial power. However, it is not a club that has a track record or has won many titles. Despite this, they are a very rare club that has never been relegated to J2. Why is Sagan Tosu so strong?


sagan tosu

Sagan Tosu is a professional soccer club whose hometown is Tosu City, Saga Prefecture, Japan. Sagan Tosu was founded very late, in 1997, and joined the J.League in 1999. With a population of only 70,000, Hometown is the smallest of all clubs. They will be promoted to the J League in 2011, but from then on they will continue to play mainly in J1. There are many players transferring and there is a lot of news in the off-season, but we are one of the few teams in the J League that have never been demoted.

team color

Team colors are blue and pink. This is also reflected in the uniforms worn at home games.

Has never been demoted to J2

As of 2023, Sagan Tosu is the only club that has been promoted from J2 to J1 that has never been relegated to J2. Sagan Tosu is the only team with this record, and there are only three teams, including Yokohama F Marinos and Kashima Antlers, who have never been relegated to J2. Tosu, a city in Saga Prefecture, is not well-known around the world, but they are actively strengthening their midfield positions by acquiring players from overseas.

home stadium

Their home stadium is Tosu Stadium, which has been called Ekimae Real Estate Stadium since 2019. It is the largest ball game stadium without a track in Saga Prefecture, and has a seating capacity of 20,000 people, so it is quite large.

Why is Sagan Tosu not relegated?

Many people may wonder why Sagan Tosu has not been relegated. How is it that a club that is neither a strong club nor one that has won many titles is able to show stable results?

Big player acquisition

Speaking of Sagan Tosu, I only get a plain impression. However, in 2018, they acquired Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid, and in 2019 they acquired former Barcelona player Isaac Cuenca, contributing to the revitalization of the J.League. However, as a result of the large-scale reinforcements, the team, which was struggling financially, had to let go of its main players and was on the verge of being demoted. Due to the J.League’s club licensing system, if a team is in the red for three consecutive terms, it will be demoted regardless of results, so the club must aim to return to profitability. As a result, a thorny path continued. However, he was not demoted. In this deficit situation, the team had no choice but to use young players, and they chose to play the young team, which was a great success.

lower tissue

It may come as a surprise, but Sagan Tosu has a very good underlying organization. The reason we were able to hold out even in a season when many of our main players were missing is because of the support of the players who came from the lower teams. As you can see from the fact that half of the regulars in the top team are either freshmen or former players from the junior team, Sagan Tosu’s junior team is quite excellent and strong. This will continue to be the same policy. Sagan Tosu is in a financial crisis, but with a team consisting mainly of subordinate organizations, they will aim to return to profitability. Sagan Tosu’s academy consists of U-18, U-15/U-15 Karatsu, and U-12, and is quite well organized. Also, because of the deficit problem mentioned above, it was inevitable that young players would have more opportunities to play, and we decided to put more effort into the junior team. The environment has been set up, and it has become a hot topic on YouTube and other sites.

overcome the management crisis

Sagan Tosu has an excessive debt problem. It was so unreasonable that we were in the red, but we are probably planning to clear it up by 2024. Club sales are increasing due to a significant increase in sponsors and a resurgence in box office revenue. The J.League was in a crisis after posting a huge deficit of over 2 billion yen in its fiscal year 2019 financial results, and was notified of the only financial corrective measures in the J.League, but there are signs that they will be able to overcome this. If we can overcome the business crisis, our performance will likely become even more stable.

defensive soccer

Sagan Tosu has a past of advocating offensive football around 2019 and failing. Perhaps because of this, the team’s soccer color can be described as defensive soccer. This style of football suited this club very well. Thanks to that, there were seasons where we were able to advance to the top. This style of soccer will probably become the base of Sagan Tosu unless they hire a really bad manager, and they are playing soccer with potential and will continue to be the foundation even as times change.

There was a time when there was a relegation crisis.

As mentioned above, Sagan Tosu may seem like a team that will not be relegated at all. However, there was actually a season in which the team was relegated. Sagan Tosu did not always put up a perfect fight year after year. Even Urawa Reds and FC Tokyo have been relegated, but Tosu has remained stable this season.


In 2013, they remained close to the automatic relegation zone. As of the end of the 13th round, they had 10 points with 2 wins, 4 draws, and 7 losses, and were only 1 point behind 16th place, which would be in the automatic relegation zone. It was a successful season. Our final ranking was 12th, and we ended up winning four straight, making it a season in which we successfully demonstrated our tenacity.


Sagan Tosu had a tough time from the beginning, recording seven consecutive losses, their worst since being promoted to J1. The team was in 17th place, in the automatic relegation zone, and the situation became so serious that manager Ficcadenti was fired. However, the team quickly came together in the final stages, and although they had the lowest number of points in J1, they finished the season in 14th place with 10 wins, 11 draws, and 13 losses. This is a miraculous result considering the incredible weakness of the early stages.


They aimed to strengthen their attack power by acquiring players such as Isaac Cuenca and placing a large number of talents on the front line, but things did not go as planned and they only scored one point in their opening 10 games. More and more supporters and front officials questioned Carreras’ tactics, and the manager was dismissed. In the second half of the game, they continued to perform well, and their final ranking was 15th, making it a very close battle as they tied for 16th place in points for the second consecutive season, but surpassed them in goal difference.

Let’s watch J League

The J League has many thrilling matches, so it is a league that we recommend watching. As mentioned in the article below, you can watch the game on a video streaming service. If you are interested, please register.

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