Nara. Home of numerous UNESCO world heritage sites, beautiful parks and a place where deer roam freely around the copious amounts of tourists. Nara is famous for lots of things, but for football, it is not. In the latest chapter of his series looking at prefectures that don’t have J.League clubs, @GifuRichy casts his eye over Nara.
Nara Prefecture, an area famous for it’s temples and shrines, looks like it will also have a bit more to offer tourists in the area with Nara Club looking a good bet to working their way into J3 this year or next.
- 2008 Nara Prefecture 1st Division
- 2009 Kansai 2nd Division
- 2010 Kansai 1st Division
- 2015 JFL (7th)
- 2016 JFL
In 2008, Nara Prefecture’s Tonan Club was given a revamp and renamed Nara Club, as the prefecture decided to put in some serious effort at making a “J” club in the area. The team got through the Nara Prefecture 1st Division and Kansai 1st Division with relative ease. However they found that the going wasn’t as easy in the Kansai 1st Division and the step up to JFL was a struggle. In 2014 however, they made it through to the Regional Finals and along with FC Osaka were promoted to the JFL.
The club gained a J3 license in 2015. While they had a J3 stadium, sufficient financial support and almost sufficient crowd numbers, the club was unable to get the results on the field and they finished 7th place.
The small club has actually promoted themselves pretty well around Japan, whether it be with their horridly splendid uniform/pajamas which have gained a lot of attention over the years, or for their performances on the field like their run in the 2014 Emperor’s Cup where they defeated J1’s Vegalta Sendai away at Yurtec Stadium.
With FW Kazunari Okayama leading the way, the team won’t be short of passion, and supporters will be entertained on and off the pitch. The question will be whether they can keep bringing in new supporters (Highest attendance last year was 3466 vs lowest of 812). Numbers have though been on the rise in recent years and if the team can get the results, the number of supporters looks like it will increase.
Nara Club looks like it has the players, staff and supporters to get into J3 at the end of this year, and even after a bad start this year (2 draws 3 losses), I predict that they will make it into the top 4 by the end of the year. The question is though, will they have enough to overpower Vanraure Hachinohe and Azul Claro Numazu and in turn get one of the two tickets to J3 in 2017.