As the season rolls into its final third, FC Gifu are fighting an even more important battle off the pitch.
Earlier this month, President Onda, Ruy Ramos and others launched the “FC Gifu J1 challenge” – a campaign that is aimed at getting FC Gifu a J1 license next year.
For those unfamiliar with the J.League system, a club wishing to take part in the top division must pass a series of checks including, but not limited to, stadium seats, covering, training facilities and financial health. FC Gifu have eliminated their “excessive debt” ensuring that they will pass that particular check. The other ones listed are still works in progress – and I mean progress very loosely. Currently, FC Gifu have no training ground of their own. Instead they have to train at various places around the prefecture. The one they use the most doesn’t have a clubhouse, meaning no shower room, no press facilities and limited medical facilities.
The club have a plan to build a clubhouse on city owned land in the north west of the city, land which is situated next to one of the places Gifu use to train. What the club really needs is people-backing. Estimates state that if they get around 50,000 signatures, the city authorities will deem it enough for a planning permission/ground sale or lease meeting and from there it should be a relatively smooth process – assuming all the money is in place.
The challenge, as it were, is to get that number of people to sign a petition stating that they would be in favour of a clubhouse being built on that site. In addition to this, supporters were asked to sign giant flags with messages of support, and these will go on display at JR Gifu Station in the centre of the city in another highly visible show of support.
The second arm of the petition is to persuade the city authorities to upgrade the Nagaragawa Memorial Centre stadium to include 15,000 seats – the number required for a J1 licence. Currently, the stadium has 13,500 seats. There has been recent movement in this area with the news that the city are preparing to make a financial assessment of the seating situation.
Things are beginning to move fast, and they need to as the deadline for J1 licence applications is July next year. It sounds like a long time, but there are so many things to sort out & finalize, not to mention a football team look after and nurture. As of this weekend, the campaign has garnered
The slogan for this campaign is: ぎふをげんきに！ぎふをひとつに！Roughly translated that means “We (Gifu) are powerful! We are one!” Let’s hope so, because the club will need the support of the citizens to progress.