The professional soccer K-League celebrated the 40th anniversary of ‘Immortality’. The K-League, which started with five teams in 1983, the first year of its launch, and has undergone several evolutions, has transformed into a huge market with 25 clubs in the 1st and 2nd divisions in 2023. It is also the league that won the most championships (10 times) in the Asian Champions League. The K-League’s external competitiveness in terms of numbers continues to develop. However, in the still poor football industry environment, corporate clubs are gradually reducing the scale of investment, and city and village clubs are becoming political scapegoats. There are also many teams with poor crowd mobilization, so they couldn’t completely get out of their ‘league of their own’. Sports Seoul examines the reality of the 40-year-old K-League over four episodes and tries to include suggestions for securing future competitiveness. <Editor’s Note>
[Sports Seoul | Reporter Kim Yong-il] Since its inception in 1983, the professional soccer K-League has sought qualitative and quantitative growth until its 40th anniversary. However, the ‘improvement of human infrastructure’ with the club secretariat as the topic of discussion is still at a standstill.
The flower of a soccer team is always reflected in the team. However, the key to sustaining the club’s history and creating a culture is the ‘only full-time employee’, the secretariat staff. In the international football world, the value of a football team is increasingly being demanded beyond grades. In particular, as the realization of social values has emerged as a hot topic, it has become an essential requirement to manage and brand the club while forecasting changes and trends in future society such as technology, economy, society, and culture. In the past, most clubs focused on their passion for soccer in their recruitment process, but now they compete to supply talent with expertise and insight in each field. Naturally, the number of ‘high-spec’ resources in the soccer team who like soccer, are fluent in foreign languages, and have international business skills has increased noticeably.
The problem is that the rate at which the 메이저사이트majority of people leave the field of football is getting more and more disappointing with the work environment. As a result of identifying the number of people who have resigned from 22 clubs in the 1st and 2nd divisions of the K-League (excluding the founding team Gimpo last year) over the past 5 years, more than 60% of ’employees with less than 5 years of experience’ were found. Basically, ‘Bakbong’ follows. Most of them are hired at the minimum wage level. Even if you join the company with experience, the wage increase is not large. The term ‘passion pay’ still exists. The soccer team’s work basically extends not only to weekdays but also to weekends when matches are held. Many clubs guarantee rest in the form of a ‘leave of absence’, but there are many cases where it is not properly implemented. This is the main reason why talented people who entered the company dreaming of becoming a competent administrator with their favorite football as a friend fall into the so-called ‘hyeonta (short for reality awareness time)’ and resign.
Last year, 11 K-League 1 clubs (excluding Kimcheon Sangmu) spent a total of 120.8664 billion won in annual salary for the players. The average annual salary per person is 282.11 million won. Compared to the previous year (average 249 million won), the 32 million expedition also increased. The total annual salary of the 11 K-League 2 clubs was 49,641.84 million won, and the average annual salary per person was 122.29 million won. Both the 1st and 2nd division players are active with an average ‘billion-dollar annual salary’. In the K-League, only a few high-ranking officials, such as the CEO and general manager, are paid hundreds of millions of won while working as secretariat staff. For a long time, the K-League has spent at least 50% to 70% of its annual budget only on personnel costs for the players.It is not simply a financial problem that secretariat staff cannot find their vision and rush to resign. Generally, the size of the secretariat is small, so it is not possible to focus on the work that needs to be specialized on its own, and it takes on other tasks at the same time. In addition, there is a lack of ‘role models’ within the club who can look forward to the future of administrators. In particular, when the mayor or provincial governor who is the owner of the club changes in the election, those who have been established as paratroopers take key positions in the soccer team, and the existing main agents are pushed out. Younger employees who have worked with passion for a long time have low morale, and it is difficult to draw a continuity of policies. He is leaving the soccer team tired of doing only the work that his new boss is aiming for, and doing ‘new business practices’ every time.
Corporate team employees cannot only dream of a rosy future. Although they carry out more stable positions than the Sidomin club, it has become common for executives or celebrity soccer players who worked for the parent company to take the positions of major practical responsibility in the club, such as CEO or general manager. This is why the appointment of Lee Jong-ha, who had 27 years of hands-on experience at the Pohang Steelers earlier this year, as the new general manager was treated as an interesting news item.
Mr. B, in his 30s, who recently left Team A, said, “It is true that the K-League’s system and facility infrastructure have risen to the level of advanced leagues. However, compared to Japan’s J-League, which nurtures key practitioners with expertise over a long period of 10 or 20 years, the K-League is an atmosphere that ends only with a’practice round’.” He said, “If an employee works happily and achieves results, they should receive incentives and experience other tasks in a higher position, but there is no such thing. The decisive reason I left the company was because the senior who joined first had the same idea. I thought, ‘There must be nowhere for me to look,’” he complained.
Regarding this phenomenon, Team C’s general manager said, “I feel responsible. The most unfortunate thing is that as the secretariat’s vision weakens, the number of clubs with diversity seems to decrease. Provincial and provincial clubs struggling to get out of the political storm should consider opening a new future for the secretariat by introducing a professional manager system. In addition, I would like the professional federation to give all teams autonomy for operation according to the club’s conditions, rather than forcing some systems to be enforced on all teams, such as the introduction of mandatory technical directors (2026). Only then will the club be able to effectively recruit and nurture talent.”