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All-time relegation competition in the K League

Founded in 1996, Suwon Samsung was a leading club in the K League from the late 1990s to the late 2000s, building the best squad with renowned masters such as Kim Ho and Cha Bum-keun.

However, Suwon Samsung slowly began to go down the path of collapse when the management of the Samsung Sports Group moved from Samsung Group to Cheil Worldwide in 2014. As the team’s support decreased significantly, it gradually lost its past splendor.

It was only last year that a sense of crisis emerged. Despite the crisis of being pushed to the playoffs, the team managed to stay and took a breather by putting out the fire, but Suwon Samsung’s move was still in place in the 2023 season.

Suwon Samsung, which entered the new season without proper reinforcement of players, was at the bottom of the table with 10 games (2 draws and 8 losses) without wins since the opening under Lee Byung-geun. After Lee Byung-geun stepped down and went through the acting head coach Choi Sung-yong, he appointed Kim Byung-soo in May to reform the atmosphere.

Nevertheless, there was little effect of changing the coach. In the second half of the year, Suwon Samsung’s front office made a strong move to appoint Yeom Ki-hoon, a former playing coach, as its head coach. Acting coach Yeom Ki-hoon, who has little experience as a leader, did his best to the end.

Suwon Samsung’s realistic goal was to escape from the bottom of the demotion zone. In the 36th round match against Suwon FC, Samsung garnered three points despite unfavorable factors such as fighting spirit with 10 players, and in the 37th round, it won a Super Match against its rival Seoul to revive the momentum of hope. However, Suwon Samsung’s lethargic performance in the final match against Gangwon clearly revealed the reason why it could be demoted.

All recruitment of foreign players has failed, and frequent replacement of coaches has caused huge confusion within the team. Eight wins, nine draws and 21 losses. Up until 10 years ago, the performance was hard to imagine. Suwon Samsung, a traditional Korean team, was humiliated at the bottom of the 12 teams. Faced with the reality that the team was degraded, it is imperative for Suwon Samsung to reorganize its team to advance to the top flight.

Gangwon-Suwon FC Remaining Dramatically

Since last season, the K-League 1 has been directly demoted to 12th place out of the 12 teams, and the second team ranked 10th to 11th will have a playoff against the second team of the K-League 2. As a result, up to three teams out of the 12 teams could be demoted in the worst case scenario. This means that ranking eighth or ninth can never be assured.

In particular, with the sensation of Gwangju, which was promoted from the second division, this season’s all-time relegation battle was inevitable. Suwon Samsung, Gangwon FC and Suwon FC hung thin enough to determine their rankings only in the final round.

Gangwon FC sought to change the atmosphere by resigning from coach Choi Yong-soo due to poor performance at the beginning of the season and leaving Yoon Jung-hwan with the baton. It was not a noticeable change, but it continued to compete until the end by falling head to head with Suwon Samsung for the bottom.

Suwon FC, which has completely led this season under coach Kim Do-kyun, was hampered by its poor defensive performance, which averaged two runs per game. Although it ran in the middle of the season at the beginning of the season, it only had one win, two draws and 10 losses from round 12 to round 24, hovering around the bottom.

In the end, Gangwon FC and Suwon FC finished 10th and 11th, respectively, and they had to be satisfied that they avoided direct relegation. However, the two teams had a guillotine match, the promotion and promotion playoff, waiting.

Gangwon FC secured the upper hand in the playoff against Gimpo FC by garnering one win and one draw. In contrast, Suwon FC went from hell to heaven. After losing the first match to Busan 1-2, it scored the first goal in the 15th minute of the first half in the second match, facing a crisis. However, Suwon FC displayed its power. With about 10 minutes left until the end of the second half, dramatic consecutive goals by Kim Hyun-jae and Lee Young-jae led the team to overtime play. In the playoff, Suwon FC’s unique attacking soccer team showed off its power, and scored three goals to secure a dramatic 5-2 victory, enjoying the joy of staying there.


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