Professional soccer Suwon Samsung relegated to the second division… Need for fundamental innovation and reorganization

Professional soccer team Suwon Samsung has been relegated to the second division.

This is a first for Suwon, a city that was once proud of its professional soccer tradition.

It’s also a symbolic moment for the current state of Samsung’s sports organizations, which have been on a disastrous collision course with soccer since the 2010s.
On December 2, Suwon drew 0-0 with Gangwon in the final match of the Final Round B (Lower Round) of the Hana OneQ K League 1 (First Division) 2023 at Suwon World Cup Stadium.

At the same time, 11th-ranked Suwon FC drew 1-1 at home against Jeju United at Suwon Sports Complex.

The standings remained unchanged as Suwon Samsung, Suwon FC, and Gangwon all picked up one point each in the final match.
Suwon finished the season in 12th place with 33 points (8 wins, 9 draws, and 21 losses), the lowest position in the league, and will be directly relegated to the second division next season.

In 10th place is Gangwon (34 points), while 11th-place Suwon FC (33 points) has the same number of points as Suwon but a superior goal difference.

Gangwon will play Gimpo and Suwon FC will face Busan I-Park in the relegation PO to decide their fate.
Suwon’s relegation is a major shock to the K League. Since its inception in 1995, Suwon has made a name for itself as one of the most popular clubs in Korean professional sports, let alone soccer.

It has won four K League 1 titles, five FA Cups, six League Cups, and two Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League finals.
In its heyday, the club was often referred to as “Real Suwon” in reference to Spanish professional soccer’s prestigious Real Madrid, thanks to its massive investments and support, and its star-studded roster of players.

The team also contributed to the excitement of the K League with high-profile rivalry matches such as the Super Match with FC Seoul, the Siege with Jeonbuk Hyundai, the Magye War with Seongnam, and the Suwon Derby with Suwon FC.

The Suwon fandom, including its official supporters, the Frente Tricolore, are among the most passionate fans in the K League.
However, Suwon’s downward spiral began in 2014 when the club’s management changed hands from the group to Cheil Industries, as it did with other Samsung sports teams.

With the change in management, the team’s focus was on maintaining the de facto status quo in the name of efficiency rather than investing in winning.

Star players left the team one by one, and the youth development players they had managed to develop were now being snatched up by league rivals or overseas clubs.
About a decade ago, Suwon’s squad led the league in total annualized salary, but by 2022, it had fallen to eighth place and was in the mid-to-lower tier of the league.

The club is no longer a priority destination for big-name national stars or big-name foreign players, and its policy of hiring pure-blooded (real blue) coaches who have played for the club as players has failed, turning it into a “graveyard of coaches.

The last time Suwon finished at the top of the league was in 2008, a whopping 15 years ago.

In the 2010s, the club won the occasional FA Cup, but it’s rare to see them compete for the league title anymore.

In the last six seasons prior to this year, Suwon’s league positions were 6-8-8-6-10-12.

The team has become more accustomed to finishing last in the top division or fighting for relegation in the lower division.
Last season, Suwon finished 10th and had to play in the promotion playoffs for the first time in its history, and while it managed to stave off relegation by beating FC Anyang, the team hasn’t learned its lesson.

In particular, the team failed to bolster its roster after sending national striker Oh Hyun-gyu, who scored 13 goals last year, to Celtic (Scotland) earlier this year.

This season’s foreign signings of Mulicic (4 goals) and Bassani (3 goals) also ended in failure.
In the 2023 season, Suwon fell to the bottom of the table early on.

After failing to win their opening seven matches (one draw and six losses), the club promptly sacked head coach Lee Byung-geun.

He was replaced by Choi Sung-yong and given the reins by Kim Byung-soo, but the results didn’t improve and he was sacked again.

Unable to find a suitable coach, Suwon eventually made a farcical decision to appoint Yeom Ki-hoon, a playing coach and club legend with no managerial experience, as acting head coach in the face of relegation.
He did a decent job, winning two and drawing one of the last three games, but it wasn’t enough to pull off another miracle on an already tilted field.

This is not the fault of the manager or the players, but rather the short-sighted management of the club, which has been consistently using stopgap measures such as changing managers on a whim without a clear plan or long-term vision, has finally shown its limits. 온라인카지노
Relegation to the second division was neither a fluke nor bad luck
The sinking of the Suwon giant didn’t happen overnight. In fact, for nearly a decade, there were numerous trials and crises, and plenty of opportunities for change and innovation, but the club and its parent organization completely ignored the warning signs.

The relegation to the second division was not an accident or a fluke, but a self-inflicted karma and an inevitability for the incompetent Suwon.
Furthermore, it was not just a matter of the soccer team, but the direction of Samsung Sports as a whole.

Samsung was once a company that always stood for “one-upmanship” when it came to sports, but as of 2023, its sports organizations are in the midst of their darkest days in each of the four major sports.
In baseball, the Samsung Lions won five straight regular season titles and four straight Korean Series titles in the first half of the 2010s, but since 2016, the team has finished a shocking 9-9-6-8-8-3-7-8.

In the last eight years, they’ve only made it to fall baseball once.
To put this downfall in perspective, prior to 2016, Samsung was a perennial powerhouse in the league, missing the Fall League only five times in 34 years and finishing as low as sixth place only once (in 1996).
In addition, the men’s basketball Seoul Samsung Thunder finished 7-10-7-7-10-10 in the last six seasons after finishing runner-up in 2016-17.

They missed the playoffs six years in a row and finished in last place three times.

In 2021-22, the team went 9-45 (.167 winning percentage), the worst winning percentage in franchise history.

The ongoing 2023-24 season has been equally dismal, with the team finishing ninth in the league with a 3-13 record (.188).
The Samsung Fire of men’s volleyball was also a powerhouse in the V-League, winning a record eight titles, but in the last five years since the 2018-19 season, they have finished 4-5-7-6-7th out of seven teams.

However, the team is showing signs of rebounding in the ongoing 2023-24 season with a third-place finish (8 wins and 4 losses), so the situation is slightly better than other sports.
It’s no coincidence that all of this has been happening at the same time for Samsung Sports since the transfer to Cheil Worldwide.

And it’s also an ongoing problem that’s still going on.
The bigger problem is that this may not be the end.

While baseball and basketball don’t have a relegation system, there’s no telling how long it will take for soccer to return to the top flight, and even if it does, it could be relegated again.

A prime example is Busan I-Park, a corporate club that has already been relegated twice since the introduction of the relegation system and has now spent even longer in the second division.

Unless there is fundamental innovation and reorganization from the parent organization, the black history of Suwon Football and Samsung Sports could be just the beginning.

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