Japanese Non-league Football News

JFL Team Profile - Arte Takasaki

If you had prior to about 2005 read anything on the subject of JFL teams seeking a J-League place, you would no doubt have been told that one of the main candidates were Arte Takasaki from Gunma prefecture. Their short history had seen some good progress being made - the club was formed under its current structure as recently as 2000, although a parent team existed for four years before that - and in the past they have consistently put themselves forward as candidates for promotion.

But there are two problems that currently face the club management: one, they don't have anywhere to call a home stadium (a requirement for J-League membership). Two, they're just not good enough on the pitch. Given the fact that the race for J2 is becoming ever more pressurised, it must have been with mounting discomfort that Takasaki fans have viewed the even more rapid emergence of clubs such as Rosso Kumamoto and FC Gifu - better-organised and potentially with better players than their own under-performing team.

Arte Takasaki began life as Macky FC Kanto in the Gunma Prefectural League, the first of many name changes occurring in 2000, when the club was re-formed as Gunma FC Fortuna. A couple of years later they had reached the Kanto League competing as Gunma FC Horikoshi and at the end of 2003, trounced FC Kyoto BAMB 1993 5-0 in a Promotion / Relegation Play-off - and the JFL had been reached.

The team were known solely as FC Horikoshi during 2005, but at the end of the year invited suggestions from supporters for yet another new name, Arte Takasaki being the result ("arte" is apparently a mangled combination of the Portuguese word for "art" and the Greek goddess of hunting, Artemis; Takasaki is their home city).

Despite their previously lofty ambitions, the truth of the matter is that they have never been more than a mid-table JFL side, having finished eighth in both 2004 and 2005. In an attempt to boost their standing, however, early 2006 saw Arte make the somewhat surprising announcement that their coach for the season would be Kim Guan Ho, a 55-year-old former North Korean international who began his senior footballing career in 1977 with the Japan-based Resident Korean Football Group and formerly coach for Tokyo's Korea University team.

Kim’s reign at Arte got off to such a poor start that he was sacked after just half a dozen games. The club essentially imploded later in the summer, with the departure of the bulk of their first-team squad along with Kim's replacement, Kazuyoshi Hamaguchi. While Arte's third boss of 2006, Brazilian player-coach Alemal, deserved some credit for steering the team away from stormy waters and concluding the season with a respectable enough finish, Gunma's dreams of sending a second team to the J-League were as far from reality as they had ever been.

Even with the ambitious appointment in early 2007 of Argentinian / Italian Jorge “Pipo” Rossi as coach, Arte Takasaki must now be considered remote candidates for the professional game. They have struggled to compete on too many fronts – on the pitch, of course, but their administration has long needed to improve and the issue of the home stadium has never been resolved. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the club failed to develop enough momentum to their push and that as a consequence, their dream of J-League football is now more or less over.

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