Having got promotion to J1 in the 2010 season I will try to add a brief description of the clubs we will be facing in this division.
Unlike J2 many of these clubs are already internationally famous so probably don’t need too much introduction.
The J-League started in 1993 when driven by the strength of the Japanese economy the largely amateur Japan Soccer League was professionalised into a 10 team league with better stadiums and televised games.
The money being poured into the League saw an influx of foreign players in the 1st couple of seasons, some of whom were worldwide superstars like Gary Linekar (albeit usually past their peak). The games were a huge success with average attendance in 1994 being 19,598, a figure which has never been bettered.
As the League gained great success it expanded, possibly over-expanded, with 8 more clubs being admitted (including Avispa Fukuoka). With the initial hype over, attendance numbers down as more choice of clubs emerged, and the Japanese economy in trouble the League started to shake and clubs looked in trouble of disbanding at parent companies looked to stop hemorrhaging money.
By 1999 the League was looking for ways to stabilise the League and introduced a more European style 2-tier League with J2 being made, and looked to abolish extra-time and penalty shootouts in ordinary league games. They had also had an Argentine style 2 halves of a season format, which was stopped in favour of an ordinary league in 2004.
Since 2004 the League has remained stable as an 18 team division with changes happening in J2. In it’s current format the top 3 teams qualify for an Asian Champions League (along with the Emperors Cup winner) and the bottom 3 teams get relegated.
Each club is allowed 4 foreign players, with 3 of those foreign players coming from anywhere in the world while the 4th must be from Asia.