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Would Suwon Bluewings be the biggest K League club to get relegated?

Suwon Samsung Bluewings are in serious trouble. One of the league's most famous and successful clubs is in danger of being relegated automatically if something doesn't change and soon. Of course, the Bluewings came very close to falling through the trap door last year and had to overcome FC Anyang in extra time to earn their place in the top flight for 2023. But if the unthinkable were to happen, would Suwon be the biggest club to be relegated to K League 2?

The Super Match loss to FC Seoul in Round 8 meant it was Suwon's sixth loss in eight games to start the 2023 campaign, which became seven away to Pohang in midweek. Daegu FC at home in Round 10 was massive, a chance to pick up three points in front of an expectant home crowd. But an Edgar Silva goal in the 54th minute, assisted by former Bluewings midfielder Lee Yong-rae, earned Daegu the win and condemned managerless Suwon to a fifth loss in a row.

To make matters worse, Gangwon FC winning two games in the space of a week has created an eight-point gap. If the unthinkable were to happen, and Suwon do find themselves relegated, would they be the biggest K League club to fall through the trap door? 

From 2012 up until 2015, only clubs with citizen and provincial backing or the army team had suffered relegation from the top flight - Gwangju, Sangju Sangmu (twice), Gangwon FC, Daegu FC, Daejeon Citizen, and Gyeongnam FC. These clubs have just two FA Cup wins between them as the only major honours, those being Daejeon Citizen (2001) and Daegu FC (2018). It wasn't until 2015 when Busan IPark were relegated did K League see one of the bigger, chaebol-backed clubs go down. Seongnam went down the following year then Jeonnam in 2018. Which club is the biggest?



Busan IPark


Busan IPark, owned and backed by HDC Hyundai Development Company, were the first big club to go down. At the time of Busan's first relegation to K League 2 in 2015, the club had won four K League titles (1984, 1987, 1991, 1997), one FA Cup (2004), and three K League Cups (1997, 1997s, 1998s). Busan have been back up and down again having won promotion via the playoffs in 2019 before suffering relegation the season after.

Jeonnam Dragons


Three years later, Jeonnam Dragons fell through the trap door. At the time, Jeonnam had won three FA Cups (1997, 2006, 2007), but had never won a league title. The Dragons have added one more FA Cup to their collection having beaten Daegu FC on away goals in the 2021 final but remain in K League 2 and even finished rock bottom in 2022.


Seongnam FC


Seongnam FC are a citizen club and have been since 2014 when control was given to the Seongnam City Government. Before that, Seongnam were owned by Ilhwa - a beverage manufacturing company. Despite no longer being chaebol-owned, the current Seongnam FC inherited the Ilhwa Chunma era honours and records meaning that the Magpies have seven K League titles (1993, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2022, 2003, 2006), three FA Cups (1999, 2011, 2014), three K League Cups (1992, 2002, 2004), one Korean Super Cup (2002), and two AFC Champions Leagues (1995, 2010) to their name. This trumps Jeonnam and Busan in terms of honours.

FNR


Suwon Bluewings?

So, would Suwon Bluewings be the biggest team to go down? Seongnam had won the FA Cup just two seasons before relegation in 2016 and had finished fifth the season before. Seongnam have won more domestic league titles but the Bluewings have more FA Cup and League Cups to their name. Suwon's total major honours come to 22, while Seongnam's is 17. Suwon have won fewer league titles (four  1998, 1999, 2004, 2008), but more domestic cups, including five FA Cups (2002, 2009, 2010, 2016, 2019), six K League Cups (1999, 1999s, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2008), three Korean Super Cups (1999, 2000, 2005). In terms of continental titles, both have won what is now the AFC Champions League two times but Suwon have two Asian Super Cups to one for Seongnam.

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