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scouting

2018 K League Promotion/Relegation Playoffs: How It All Works

2018 K League Promotion/Relegation Playoff: How It All Works
With only one automatic promotion spot to play for in K League 2, the rest of the chasing pack have to battle it out in the Promotion/Relegation Playoffs in order to reach the promised land of Korea's top flight. In 2018, the playoffs will be comprised of Busan IPark, Gwangju FC, and Daejeon Citizen as well as the the eleventh-placed team from K League 1, But, how does it all work? A comprehensive guide to the K League Playoffs.

Format

2018 K League Promotion/Relegation Playoffs: How It All Works

Normally, the K League 2 runners up will advance to the Promotion Final but this season is a bit different from normal due to Asan Mugunghwa, the K League 2 Champions, being denied promotion due to their recruitment crisis. As a result, it is second-placed Seongnam FC who who have won automatic promotion in their place. Busan IPark in third have then advanced to the Promotion Final, and will await the winners Daejeon Citizen in fourth who are at home to Gwangju FC in fifth who will play each other in what will be a one off semifinal.

Then, the victors game will play Busan IPark in the Promotion Final over one leg at Busan's Gudeok Stadium. In both the Promotion Semifinal and the Final, the home team will have the added advantage of only needing a draw to be to advance.

After which, the Promotion Playoff Winners will play a two-legged affair against the side who finishes in eleventh in K League 1 in what is called the Promotion/Relegation Final. The K League 1 team has home advantage for the decisive second leg.

Background

With the inception of the K League Challenge (now K League 2) in 2013, a promotion/relegation playoff was introduced by the League's governing body. In 2013, 14 clubs competed in the K League 1 (formerly K League Classic) whilst eight teams made up the Challenge (K League 2). To even out the numbers, two teams were automatically relegated from the Classic (K1)  that year, namely Daegu FC and Daejeon Citizen, who finished thirteenth and fourteenth respectively.

Gangwon FC finished twelfth and so competed in a two-legged playoff final against Sangju Sangmu who topped the Challenge table (now K League 2). Gangwon lost 4-2 on aggregate and so Sangju Sangmu were promoted and, consequently, Gangwon became the first team to be relegated under the new system.

In 2014, with 12 teams in the Classic (K League 1) and 10 in the Challenge (K League 2), the system altered slightly so that one team would be automatically relegated to the second tier, trading places with the team who would finish as K League 2 Champions who would go up automatically. Whether or not two more teams would change places would depend on the Promotion/Relegation Playoffs.

History

In 2017, Sangju Sangmu became the first K League 1 team to win the Promotion/Relegation playoffs. Every other season since 2013, it had been the K League 2 team who emerged as the victors and gone on to earn promotion.

2013 Sangmu Sangmu (K2) 4-2 Gangwon FC (K1)
2014 Gwangju FC (K2) 4-2 Gyeongnam FC (K1)
2015 Suwon FC (K2) 3-0 Busan IPark (K1)
2016 Gangwon FC* (K2) 1-1 Seongnam FC (K1)
2017 Sangju Sangmu** (K1) 1-1 Busan IPark (K2)

* Gangwon won on away goals
** Sangju won on penalties


All scores are on aggregate after two legs.

The K League United Podcast

On the latest edition of The K League Untied Podcast, we took a look at playoffs, previewing all three K League 2 teams in detail and assessing their odds of promotion. You can listen to the podcast below.


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