Japan: Victorina Buys Its Way Into 2nd Division

  0 Jeremy Brahm | August 07th, 2017 | Japanese League, News, Pro Indoor

Japanese team Victorina Himeji, a city just outside of Kobe, was created in March 2016, and the V-League at that time said that would join the V-League’s Challenger 2 (third) division for the 2017-2018 season.

Since then, the team has made some major moves in the Japanese volleyball world for a lower level club. First they signed former national team setter, Yoshie Takeshita as head coach in June 2016. Then in November 2016, former Japanese women’s national team head coach Masayoshi Manabe was named general manager of the new team. Manabe had grown up in Himeji through middle school, so it made sense to have this man takeover his hometown team.

In May 2017, Challenger 1 (second) division team, Sendai Belle Fille announced that it had losses of 100 million yen ($894,000) after the 2016-2017 season. The management of team had the support of 40 local sponsors in Sendai, but still the management decided in June that team would withdraw from the V-League and probably cease to exist before the next season.

In the past, Japanese teams, which are usually owned by companies, would become professional clubs when their corporate parent have decided to stop investing in the team, such as Okayama Seagulls. Now, the V-League has decided to move to new teams being professional clubs first.

Victorina, as it was supposed to start in the third division, found an opportunity as a professional club that had not been seen since the creation of the V-League. Using the Okayama example, the V-League has in its regulations stated that in teams with financially difficult situations, they can continue if they can find sufficient funding from any organization, including relocation.

Victorina made a surprise move. On July 29th, it announced that they would transfer the franchise from Sendai Belle Fille to Victorina Himeji. Himeji would assume take over the player contracts from Sendai, many of whom had already be listed as available for transfer. On August 1st, the V-League gave approval for the acquisition by Himeji.

Some in the Japanese volleyball world feel that Himeji should not be allowed to do this and that teams should win their way into the Premier League. It is a stunning move for a new team, but Sendai was a very distant 4th (32 points away in 21 matches) from Denso Airybees and Ageo Medics, who won their promotion matches to the Premier League (first division). However, the V-League management gave approval to the move and it is mute at this point.

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