먹튀검증Gwangju FC’s rise to the Final A has taken wings. The team has dramatically resolved the situation where training infrastructure issues forced them to switch to indoor training when it rained. With the quick and full support of Gwangju Metropolitan Mayor Kang Ki-jung, the club has seized the opportunity to not only solve the training ground problem in the second half of the season, but also to prepare long-term infrastructure.
On the 9th, the club held a meeting with city officials, sports federation officials, and facility management practitioners. Representing the club were head coach Lee Jung-hyo, captain Ahn Young-gyu, and front office staff. The meeting was organised by Mayor Kang Ki-jeong following recent criticisms of Gwangju’s training grounds and lamentations from within the club.
Gwangju utilises three training grounds during the season. The natural grass at the Gwangju World Cup Stadium, which has been vacant since the construction of the dedicated stadium, and the natural and artificial pitches at the Gwangju Football Centre, which opened in 2020 on the site of the former Yeomju Yanggung Field. However, the two sides of the Gwangju Football Centre site have been criticised for drainage problems since the time of construction, and cannot be used properly when it rains. During the summer months, the turf became necrotic, causing players to develop eye diseases.
As the number of rainy days increased in July, Gwangju was unable to train properly. They were forced to cycle and lift weights indoors. The A team, which includes the main players, was unable to train properly, so the twice-daily training sessions for the non-starters were out of the question. Coach Lee Jung-hyo expressed his frustration with the training infrastructure, saying, “There are limits to growing the team.” Jung Ho-yeon, one of the main players, also expressed his opinion at the press conference, saying, “I wish the grass was watered enough during training.”
Mayor Kang Ki-jeong, who has been showing interest in Gwangju FC since taking office and is constantly looking for a stadium, has responded to these voices. He recently asked the Sports Promotion Division, the department in charge, and the Gwangju Sports Association, which manages the city’s sports facilities, for quick improvements and support. A meeting was held on the 9th to come up with a solution.
At the meeting, Lee and the club requested and were granted permission to use the Gwangju Stadium for the second half of the World Cup. In return, the club accepted the opinions of those who manage the facility. It was decided that training would be held in the afternoon as the focus would be on grass growth in the morning. It was decided that if the training ran late and the person in charge had to go home, the club officials would clean up afterwards. Jung’s request to water the grass before training was also accepted.
A solution to the problem of the Gwangju Football Centre was also presented. The city and the KFA announced plans to completely replace the turf at the football centre with a budget of 3 billion won. Although a legal dispute with the contractor is expected, as the use of the football centre is urgent, it was decided to secure the budget and proceed with the construction, and then claim the right to use it later. Construction is expected to begin in September and be completed in the first half of next year. The first side of the artificial turf will be replaced with natural turf, and the second side will be replaced with natural turf.
Lee asked for more infrastructure at the football centre if he could afford it. He wanted a place where players could shower after training and do light weight training before training without having to return to their accommodation in the private stadium. The city promised to be receptive to Lee’s suggestion, although it would require administrative procedures such as changing the use and checking the floor area ratio.
The city also pledged to actively support Gwangju FC, which has been making waves in its first year back in the K League 1, and has put the city on the map. Another gift came with the deal. The turf at the Gwangju Football Stadium will be replaced. The Gwangju Football Stadium, which was converted into a dedicated stadium by installing headquarters seats and variable seats in the auxiliary stadium of the Gwangju World Cup Stadium, had been laid with grass for 20 years. Due to the age of the grass, sediment had accumulated, increasing the difficulty of growing grass. It was soon decided that a budget would be prepared and approved by the city council to replace the turf. The focus was on the fact that Gwangju would not be able to use its home stadium for a while, but it would be necessary for the next 10 to 20 years.
“With the active interest of the owner, Mayor Kang Ki-jeong, and the co-operation of everyone involved, we came to a conclusion that will brighten the future of Gwangju FC,” said Lee Jung-hyo. He added, “CEO Labour Il is also an unsung hero. He spared no effort to ensure that the players could play in better conditions and environments.” After taking over last year, Labour changed the principle of travelling to neighbouring away games (Jeonbuk and Jeonnam) from the same day to a day before, and also raised hotel and long-distance KTX expenses to meet the standards of other first division clubs from this year.
“I’m not going to complain for the time being,” said a smiling Lee Jeong-hyo, “I’m only thinking about repaying the interest and support that I and the players have received. We will prove the reason for the support with better results and matches, and create a virtuous cycle that will lead to the development of other club infrastructures and environments.” Gwangju, who are currently fifth in the K League One standings after back-to-back wins over Suwon FC and Daejeon Hana Citizen, will travel to Pohang on the 13th.