Reports in the Gifu Shimbun & Chunichi Shimbun on Wednesday stated that FC Gifu will announce the identity of their new chairman soon, and that it will be Satoshi Onda, a close associate Nobuyoshi Fujisawa, the head of J.Trust co.
Onda steps in to replace Daijirou Kunda, who is stepping down after nearly two years in the job. While Onda was born in Yamagata prefecture, he went to school in Gifu meaning that he does have some ties to the area. This will be his first job in football, but he has held positions at or near the top of companies before, serving as managing director of Next Japan and Adores. Both of these companies have been/are closely related to J.Trust.
Allied to this news is the news that Fujisawa will inject ¥200m of working capital into the club. This is going to come through the issue, and purchase, of shares. Currently Gifu Prefecture (ie: the prefectural authority) is the largest shareholder of the club, owning around 7% of the club. When Fujisawa makes his purchase of shares (I’m still not actually sure if he is making the purchase personally or through the company, although I would assume it is a company purchase) it will take his holding to around the 40% mark.
One thing that did pique my interest reading the information surrounding this transaction, was the fact that Gifu’s operational budget has increased from ¥550m last year to ¥900m this year. Last year, that ¥550m budget was the lowest in the division but it is quite a startling increase. Obviously the bulk of this has gone on player recruitment and we would hope that the players that have been brought in keep us away from the relegation zone. But I also hope that some of it is being used to build for the future. I know some of it is with the underwriting of the “free kids passport” that allows elementary school children in Gifu prefecture to attend games for free, but I hope that plans for a clubhouse/training ground are seriously being considered too.
Hopefully the new chairman is ratified soon, and he can get to work making the club’s financial footing very stable indeed. After that, we start to look onwards & upwards……