Anyang LG Cheetahs was a South Korean football club located in Anyang, Gyeonggi. It was owned and managed by GS Sports, a subsidiary of GS Group. The club was considered a powerhouse in the K-League. It moved to Seoul and is now known as FC Seoul.
One of the oldest sides in the K-League, the club was formed in December 1983, and started out in 1984 season as Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso, owned and financially supported by the LG Group, located in the city of Chungju. In the inaugural season, the club finished seventh out of the eight sides. The club fared better in 1985 when they won the Championship with the help of Thai international Piyapong Pue-On, who was the top goalscorer, as well as the league leader in assists.
Move to Seoul and then to Anyang:
At the start of 1990 season, the K-League, worried about financial stability of clubs, invited number of clubs to play in Seoul, the capital and the most populous city in South Korea. Thus, the Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso moved to Dongdaemun Stadium in Seoul at the beginning of 1990. The move proved to be a very good one, as the club finished the year as champions of K-League. As part of the LG Group’s corporate identity change, the club changed its name to LG Cheetahs in 1991. After several successful seasons in Seoul, the club was forced to move in 1996, as part of K-League’s decentralization policy. This policy was carried out due to two reasons. In 1995, Korea was under bidding for 2002 FIFA World Cup. So first reason is that KFA and K-League want to build a soccer-specific stadium in Seoul and second reason is that KFA and K-League want to spread football fever to the provinces. 3 clubs based in Seoul- LG Cheetahs, Ilhwa Chunma, Yukong Kokkiri didn’t accept this policy. But Korean government gave eviction order to 3 clubs. But they guaranteed if clubs build a soccer-specific stadium in Seoul, clubs have a Seoul franchise and then return to Seoul. As a result, 3 clubs were evicted from seoul to other cities, then LG Cheetahs is moved to the city of Anyang, a satellite city of Seoul, and was now known as the Anyang LG Cheetahs. In the upcoming years, a solid base of supporters was formed, and it established a strong league rivalry with the Suwon Samsung Bluewings, partly fueled also by the fact that LG Group and Samsung Group, which owned the Suwon club, were also considered rivals in the business world, especially in electronics. The club continued to grow and in 2000, they won their third Championship, behind the firepower of striker Choi Yong-Soo and the rookie wingback Lee Young-Pyo.
Abandoning of Anyang Fans
For 2002 FIFA World Cup, in Korea and Japan, 10 brand new stadiums of World Cup standards were built in Korea. After the World Cup, the Korean World Cup Organizing Committee and the Korea Football Association (KFA) actively supported the move of regional K-League clubs into the new stadia, to avoid any financial losses by having to maintain a stadium in playing conditions without any income. However, due to the previous decision by the league to exclude any member club from being based in Seoul, Seoul World Cup Stadium remained vacant, except as a host of some international friendlies. Thus, the city government of Seoul and the KFA both actively sought for a K-League club to play at the stadium to avoid substantial financial losses. Initially, the idea was to create a new club, but when it was later learned that any club playing in Seoul World Cup Stadium would have to pay partially for the construction fees of the stadium, this proved very unlikely. Thus, the KFA tried to lure one of the current clubs to Seoul. Anyang LG Cheetahs, behind the financial backing of the LG Group, who viewed the move back to Seoul as a way to increase its advertising presence, announced in February 2004 that it would pay the share of the construction fees (which turned out to be 15 billion wons, or at that time 15 million USD).
This proposed move provoked a significant amount of anger from the local supporters of the club, resulting in series of demonstrations by the supporters. Further fueling the resistance was the general consensus of the South Korean public that football clubs need to have strong regional ties, not a simple marketing branch of a corporation that could be moved without agreement of the fans. However, the lure of the Seoul market was too great for the LG Group to avoid. Furthermore, the LG Group considered the move to Seoul as a “return” to Seoul, asserting that it is simply reclaiming what was taken away from them. The club was not welcomed by the general football fans in Seoul, as this can be the poison for the football in Seoul. Despite the strong movement against moving, the club was finished its move to Seoul, but it had to relent somewhat, as the official name of the club was changed to FC Seoul, along with the promise that the LG Group will invest money into youth football in Seoul. The lack of the corporate identity in the club name was seen by the media as a huge compromise, since it is bound to lose certain marketability. However, the name change was also seen as a marketing ploy to make the club feel like a “citizen club.”