J-League: Cashflow not behind all-star game axe

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TOKYO - The J-League's decision to pull the plug on this season's all-star game was logistical and not one triggered by financial trouble, the Japanese organisation said on Wednesday.

A J-League official told Reuters the failure to reach an agreement with sponsors for the annual match had more to do with scheduling problems after this year's World Cup finals.

"It's not so much about the economic situation," J-League media officer Rina Iwamoto said. "The schedule was very tight after the World Cup.

"We couldn't find a date to agree with sponsors. We're negotiating to play the fixture next year but at the moment nothing has been decided."

Japanese sport has been hit hard by the global financial crisis over the past couple of years, particularly in motorsport with Toyota and Honda quitting Formula One to cut costs.

Subaru, Suzuki and Kawasaki have also pulled out of motorsport, while local football, rugby, basketball and ice hockey have all felt the economic pinch.

Debt-ridden club Oita Trinita were bailed out by the J-League after being on the brink of bankruptcy while the future of once-mighty Tokyo Verdy remains under threat.

But Iwamoto insisted the J-League itself had not suffered from the financial crisis.

"So far this season average attendances are 19,296 - which is slightly higher than last year," she said. "The J-League works hard to keep itself (profitable).

"Oita's local municipal and prefectural administrations are working hard to help pay back the J-League ($7 million) loan and we remain hopeful Verdy can find sponsors for next season."

The J-League scrapped its all-star game on Tuesday for the first time since Japan's professional league was launched in 1993 but is hoping to bring the fixture back next season.

The J-League has played a select eleven from Asian neighbour South Korea's K-League for the past two years.

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