A week after Gyeongnam FC’s relegation from K-League Classic was confirmed in a 4-2 play-off loss to Gwangju FC, veteran defender Park Ju-sung signed with Chinese Super League club Guizhou Renhe.
Park will not likely be the only player to leave. According to one agent with a finger on the pulse, several of the club’s key players are attracting both domestic and foreign interest. Among these are Lee Chang-min, Milos Stojanovic and Jin Kyung-sun. The exodus is perhaps already underway.
When a team hits the unfortunate wall of relegation, it is common for the top players to leave the side for better and bigger opportunities. Gyeongnam’s exodus, however, is not solely based on their relegation.
Gyeongnam FC is operated by the provincial government of Gyeongnamsangnamdo, funding the club through local taxes. During a provincial government meeting last Monday, Governor Hong Joon-pyo expressed his dissatisfaction with the club.
“We have invested a lot of money into the club over the last two years, but the results were disastrous,” said Governor Hong. “Professionals have to be judged by the outcomes, not the process.”
“After a special inspection [of the club’s operations], disbandment of the team will be decided.”
Though the cub’s future is yet to be officially decided, the players have a right to be anxious over the possibility of losing the team and seeking to change livery. Even if the government decides to continue funding the team, it will not be easy for players to remain at a club where the axe could fall if results weren’t positive.
To avoid this potential mass exit, Governor Hong will have to quickly adjust his stance on matters and reassure staff and players that the club will continue to exist, which doesn’t seem likely in the near future.
Considering this, could it be the end for Gyeongnam FC?