Another promotion failure. Busan I-Park will continue to face an uphill battle in the second-tier league, K League 2, in 2024.
Busan became the loser of the promotion playoffs (PO) of the Hana OneQ K League 2023. The team lost 2-5 in the second leg of the PO against Suwon FC at Suwon Sports Complex on Sept. 9, failing to protect its 2-1 first leg advantage. With a total score of 4-6 in the two games, Busan failed to get promoted.
Busan’s lack of backbone is regrettable. Since the middle of this season, the team has been leading the K-League 2, raising the dream of direct promotion. A win in the final round would have given them the title, but they drew with Chungbuk Cheongju FC and ended the season in second place. In the Promotion PO, they also reached the threshold of the first division but slipped. They took the first leg and scored the first goal in the second leg to put themselves in an advantageous position, but they collapsed in the second half and missed out on the coveted ‘first leg ticket’.
Busan has made solid progress under Park Jin-seop this season. Park, who took over midway through last season, has transformed the team in his second year. Having previously promoted Gwangju FC, he proved his leadership skills by taking the team from 10th place last year to the top of the table. Instead of criticizing Park and the team, many Busan fans gathered in Suwon to support and encourage him. That’s a testament to a good season.레모나토토
While the leadership was clear, the limitations were also clear. Busan is focused on efficient management under the policy of Chung Mong-kyu, president of the Korea Football Association and owner of Busan. Despite being a corporate club and a “chairman’s club,” the budget is not large.
As of last year, Busan spent 5.5 billion won on player salaries. This was the fifth highest in the league. This year, their budget has increased slightly and they reportedly spent around 6 billion won, which is among the top teams. However, compared to Suwon FC, which spent 8.8 billion won last year, the difference is still large. Considering the difference in money, it is not easy for Busan to surpass Suwon FC. In fact, Suwon FC has star players like Yoon Beom-garam, Lee Young-jae, Lee Seung-woo, and Lee Yong-yu. Busan, on the other hand, has younger players like Choi Jun, Lim Min-hyuk, Kang Sang-yoon, and Cho Woo-je. The difference is in weight.
Gimcheon Commerce, who overturned the rankings at the last minute, has a number of players with age group and A national team experience. They are a so-called “ecosystem disruptor,” and it is difficult for a team of Busan’s stature to jump over them. A senior official from a second division club joked, “There is a joke that even if you combine the salaries of the top three teams in the K League 2, they may not reach Gimcheon Commerce. That’s why Gimcheon is so hard to beat.”
Salary size is not an absolute guarantee of performance. This year, Gwangju FC in K League 1 and Gimpo FC in K League 2 have made waves with smaller budgets. However, as a general concept, it is not easy to overcome the difference in money in the end. Last year, Daejeon Hana Citizens won promotion with a budget of around 8.8 billion won, which is a far cry from the second division. This year, Daejeon stayed in the K League 1 and went on a box office run. Once in the top division, the team size itself changed. This is why promotion requires a certain amount of spending and investment.
Busan spent three seasons in the second division after being relegated in 2020, a period that will now increase by one year. In 2024, there will be a new dinosaur in K League 2: Suwon Samsung. There is only one ticket for direct promotion next year. Unless the budget increases by leaps and bounds, Busan will once again face an uphill battle.