The J-League could indicate as early as Wednesday whether it plans to reschedule the Japanese professional football season and bring it into line with top competitions in Europe.
The league has finished interviewing all 60 clubs in its top three divisions about the potential realignment, which would see the season kick off in August, rather than the current February, from 2026 at the earliest.
Previous discussions in 2017 ended with the idea being shelved, but the reformatting of the Asian Champions League, which moved its start to September from this term, has given new impetus to changing the schedule.
While shifting the Japanese season has wide-ranging pros and cons, J-League Chairman Yoshikazu Nonomura feels the talks with stakeholders have been productive so far.
"We're no longer getting emotional at all in the face of a difficult matter. We've been having good conversations," Nonomura said.
The J-League has been presenting the clubs with detailed simulations that will come with the change, along with its future vision of the competition, with one of the biggest merits being teams having to play fewer matches in severe summer heat.
Data have verified a drop in the level of intensity as well as playing speed during that hot period. If adopted, the new schedule would have June to early August as the offseason.
"There won't be a big change to the actual period in which football matches are played," senior J-League official Junya Higuchi said.
Running the season in parallel with Europe will also likely see more active transfers between the J-League and the world's top leagues.
One of the major arguments against the move is the impact on clubs based in areas that experience heavy snowfall during the winter months.
Even with a midseason break in place, a new schedule could result in several games played in the coldest period between December and February. For clubs who struggle to even hold training in their home cities during that stretch, the issue simply cannot be overlooked.
"I want to participate in the discussion (with the J-League) from the opposing position," Albirex Niigata President Yukio Nakano told fans in August during an opinion exchange session.
Hirokatsu Mikami, President of Hokkaido-based Consadole Sapporo, said he is overall in favor of the idea but only "with conditions met," including support from the J-League for snow-affected clubs to establish indoor training facilities.
With the academic year in Japan starting in April, an August start to the football season would also require high school and university players turning professional to leave their school teams early in order to make the start of the new season in the J-League or lower-tier competitions.
Securing the usage of local stadiums administered by local authorities would also be a concern for clubs without their own venues, as leasing agreements would be split across fiscal years, which also start in April.