Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Watanabe: I Will Quit

The Squirrels have announced the result of their internal investigation into recent allegations that they released false crowd figures for the match against Urawa Reds earlier this month. In a detailed post here on the club's official website, it has been confirmed that Ardija president Seigo Watanabe will resign as a result of what Ardija are expressing as a misunderstanding of the J-League's rules in relation to counting the number of people attending J1 fixtures.

The information presented on the club site states that Omiya have been using an incorrect counting system since the opening of the new NACK5 stadium in November 2007. While J-League rules say that crowd figures should be made up solely of people who go through the gate, Ardija have for the last three years consistently and systematically inflated their attendances by including other types of people who do not gain entry to the stadium by that one designated method, such as volunteers, players' guests, VIPs and wheelchair users.

The most striking example relates to the 2009 season, for which Watanabe and the club set what was commonly agreed by fans to be a wildly optimistic target of 300,000 as the total number of supporters attending Omiya's home matches in J1. Aided to a great extent in reaching this goal by the game at Saitama Stadium against Kawasaki Frontale, for which the official attendance is here given as 42,346, it now emerges that the aggregate attendance for that season - so proudly reported by the club as being 301,038 - should in fact have read just 252,428.

It ought to be stressed again that the Squirrels are claiming that this discrepancy is due to the club having failed to understand the J-League's regulations, rather than simply having been caught cheating. However, there have been suggestions that Ardija were feeling the pressure of meeting J-League attendance targets and two members of the club's office staff have been dismissed. It has also been confirmed that Seigo Watanabe will stand down as president, as soon as a proposed new system for counting matchday attendance has been put in place.



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