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All Change In Chugoku
It's been announced that the next couple of years will see a major overhaul to the format of the Chugoku League competition. Since 2003, the league has mostly functioned as an eight-team division, with a straightforward home-and-away fixture list and a mechanism of promotion from the Prefectural Leagues involving Play-offs with the bottom two teams. A more unusual feature has been the use of penalty shoot-outs to decide drawn matches, something which elsewhere within the Regional League structure is retained only in Kyushu.

However, at the end of the regular 14-game 2007 season - due to commence on 15 April - the league table will be divided into a top four and bottom four, with the teams in each section playing against each other on one further occasion, i.e. a total of 17 matches. It is expected that following the performance of Fagiano Okayama in the Regional League Championship Winners' Play-off tournament last year, the top two teams will proceed to the equivalent competition in November.

At the other end of the Chugoku League, there is not scheduled to be any relegation this year because in 2008 it will be expanded to include ten clubs. This will be good news for teams such as Shimane prefecture's Iwami SC - relegated at the end of 2006 after five seasons at Regional level - and Okayama pair NTN Okayama and Nippon Oil Mizushima. The use of penalty shoot-outs to decide drawn games, a feature of Chugoku League football for a decade, is also to be abolished.
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