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Japan boss wants Euro-style season to help national team

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japan's new soccer supremo Junji Ogura will push to implement his predecessor's radical plan for a European-style autumn-to-spring J-League season to help the national team.

Japan Football Association (JFA) president Ogura hopes to usher in the sweeping reform of the 18-team league, which normally runs from March to December, by 2015.

"This is something we really need to do...hopefully in the next five to 10 years if finances permit," Ogura told the Asian Football Confederation's website (

"The FIFA calendar is very much European-oriented and if we don't change our league is the players, eventually the national team, who will suffer the most."

An overhaul of the J-League's calendar to mirror the European campaigns that run from August through to May would be a costly enterprise which would force clubs to invest in under-soil heating.

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"Change is necessary if Japan wants to continue to be competitive on the international front," said Ogura, who took over from Motoaki Inukai last month.

"Having said that, every change needs to be well planned as it will drastically affect the league as a whole."

Clubs in the north of Japan with its freezing winters and heavy snowfall would be a major priority for the JFA in carrying out its bold plan.

"We need to (implement change) step by step, from north to south." said the 71-year-old Ogura. "We need to start from Hokkaido, and then Yamagata, Niigata to Sendai and the list goes on.

"If we can get sponsors from the government or private sectors then we can start early. Any decision taken will be taken after deep consideration...between JFA and the J-League."